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Orange and Microsoft are partnering on a series of offers to tempt businesses small and large into trusting their corporate data to mobile devices.

The UK tie-up higlights the sort of marriages of convenience we are likely to see more of, as vendors, operators, service providers and systems integrators scramble for a piece of the expanding mobile data pie.

The companies will offer businesses with more than 50 employees a 60 day trial of its Windows Mobile-based SPV C500 smart phones, which together with Microsoft’s Exchange 2003 comms platform, will allow trialees to experience the joy of pushing out a full range of corporate data to mobile users. The trial period runs as long as 60 days.

Companies with less than 50 employees, or put another way, the rest of us, can have a 30 day trial of the SPV C500. Perhaps Orange and Microsoft reckon such teensy organizations will actually be able to fit all their corporate data on a single smart phone.

Orange has worked closely with Microsoft in the past, as well as with mobile data pioneer, Research in Motion.

Shaun Orpen, marketing director for Orange business solutions, said that while RIM, with its Blackberry, had done a “brilliant job of increasing awareness” of the potential of mobilizing data, companies were now looking for ways to roll out the concept beyond senior executives and specialists in the field.

But Orpen insisted the latest crop of promotions did not mean the operator was hitching itself to Microsoft’s particular platform, saying “It’s very clear… no one size fits all.” That said, aligning with Microsoft could mean a pretty broad fit for Orange’s mobile data service

Orpen said that telecoms operators had to evolve the way they approach accounts as telecoms and IT purchasing are brought closer together by customers. On the one hand this means working closer with IT product and services vendors. At the same time, the telco is taking on more IT industry veterans to help it target large accounts face to face.

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