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Ballmer: Microsoft will power the mobile revolution

'Not Apple. Not RIM.'

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CTIA Steve Ballmer believes that Microsoft is the only company with "the wherewithal" to dominate the world of mobile computing.

Appearing at CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment, a massive mobile tradeshow underway in downtown San Francisco, the Microsoft supremo told show goers that the company has the upper-hand on the likes of Apple and Blackberry-maker Research in Motion because its Windows Mobile platform is so darn versatile. Windows Mobile plays nicely with both enterprise and entertainment applications, he explained, and it's open to third party developers.

"Compared to anybody else participating in the industry, we are trying to provide a critical mass of solutions that will really be an enabler of third parties," Ballmer said. "Apple's done some nice work clearly, but it's far more end-to-end and self contained. And you've had the same kind of approach from RIM."

Should someone tell him that Apple has opened up the iPhone?

One of Redmond’s primary aims, Ballmer said, is to build a unified computing model that operates seamlessly across desktops, back-end enterprise systems, and the internet as well as devices like set-top boxes and mobile phones. "This problem...is number one on Microsoft's innovation agenda," Ballmer said. "We have to meld these computing models into one."

As part of this effort, he explained, Microsoft is intent on building a mobile platform that bridges the gap between work and play. "We have to think about the phone as a universal remote control for your life - your business life as well as your personal life," he said. "Consumers will want phones that span all of their life personas."

Ballmer’s big news on the enterprise side was the impending debut of Microsoft’s System Center Mobile Device Management (SCMDM) 2008, a tool that allows IT administrators to remotely manage Windows Mobile devices. We told you all about it earlier today.

In mid-speech, Steve rolled out an automatonic Microsoft product manager to show the tool in action. When used in tandem with a version of Windows Mobile OS that may not arrive for another 8 months, SCMDM can push software updates, tweak security settings, provide VPN access to back-end apps, and more. "It will manage the phone, in some senses, like you'd manage mission-critical data on the PC. It will help provision the devices. It will help control the devices."

There was no big announcement on the consumer side, but Steve-o soon pulled out a second automaton to show how well Windows Mobile devices handle things like search, photo-sharing, instant messaging, and remote Oprah recording. "These devices are also a source of community, personal and social communications, media and entertainment," Ballmer said.

And naturally, he made a point of saying that Windows Mobile will continue to improve - on both enterprise side and the consumer side - because Microsoft works so closely with other companies. "We're focused on partnerships - with operators and with the content developers - that can really drive the application scenarios that will drive the next level of innovation."

In short, Ballmer feels that Microsoft has it right and everyone else is struggling to keep up. "No one company is going to have anywhere near the wherewithal to really do all of these exciting applications and services that will power the next generation of this [mobile] revolution." ®

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