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Microsoft releases Symbian Communicator

First fruit of alliance

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The alliance between Microsoft and Nokia, announced last August, has delivered its first fruit: Microsoft Communicator Mobile. Microsoft had previously made the software available on Java, and now it's here on Symbian.

The software gives access to Microsoft's Communication Server, and offers real-time messaging based on IM and presence. Previous versions support VoIP, but Nokia tells us the version for Symbian doesn't. Naturally it requires a Microsoft server, and users must have Client Access Licenses. It's available for two of Nokia's E-series phones, the E72 and E52, according to the press material, but Microsoft's own support pages suggest it's also available on E63, E66 and E71 phones.

It doesn't quite address the demand to talk to Exchange email servers on non-Microsoft devices, a need met by DataViz with its RoadSync client, available on Symbian and Android. Nokia offered a crude Exchange client for Symbian (Mail for Exchange) for years, but has folded the functionality into Nokia Messaging, a subscription email service based on its $430m Intellisync acquisition in 2005. So you can't get decent Exchange access out of the box, for free.

Apple already does so, and the iPhone 4.0 upgrade will add Exchange Server 2010 and support for multiple Exchange accounts. Google offers its Sync and now puts Android in the platform, while Blackberry users can use NotifySync for Exchange access without needing a Blackberry Exchange Server, although this isn't cheap. But then very little about enterprise messaging is cheap.

Nokia and Microsoft were the original protagonists in the smartphone wars a decade ago, but as the market has grown latecomers such as Apple and Blackberry have taken most of the profits. ®

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