At its recent Mobility Developer Conference, Microsoft demonstrated key areas of its new wireless offerings while discussing the past, present and future of the mobile industry to an audience of developers.
The Pocket PC 2003 and the Microsoft Smartphone were the conference highlights, while Microsoft’s Mike Wehrs, director of technology and standards for the mobile device division, called the mobile industry “a new computing environment that is basically taking over” during his keynote address.
Wehrs said that a few years ago the mobile industry was solely a voice-oriented arena, but today, all that had changed.
He said users now had speech, keypad, and touch screen capabilities all on one mobile device.
Wehrs said new security systems associated with data connectivity meant customers had new expectations from smarter devices now available and demanded more from them.
“When developers can add more and more value to (mobile devices) then what I expect, what my user experience is going to be, is dramatically better and different than just being able to place a voice call,” Wehrs said.
When describing today’s mobile industry, Wehrs said “we have the good and we have the things that we didn’t do quite as well as we would have liked”.
Cameras and storage were highlighted in the “good” area as being technologies that had changed dramatically over the past year, while Wi-Fi deployment, Web services and mobile data services rounded out the unsatisfactory category.
“I think 1992 was the first year people declared as the year of mobile data,” Wehrs said. “I think all of us reflect back on that and say well, we missed it by a decade and we’re not quite there yet, but it is definitely happening.”
He said that concerns in areas such as data services and the service side of Wi-Fi deployment, including roaming and security, were hampering device adoption and some of the overall land deployments.
Wehrs said the segregation that exists between enterprises, including public hotspots, and the rest of the world needs to be eliminated in order for mobile technology to be truly useful and evolved.
“We, as people, don’t sit in either one world or another, we move. We don’t only move between these wireless networks, but we move between fixed networks,” Wehrs said. “There’s a common phrase used within the mobile industry: the ‘mobile user’. I don’t know what a mobile user is but I know what a user is. Sometimes it’s mobile and sometimes it’s fixed and sometimes it’s in hotspots. But I know as a user in that kind of scenario, I just want my stuff to work.”
He said that of all the challenge areas Microsoft is trying to address right now, the ability to move from one network type to another network type — the concept of multi-network capability or “automatic handoff capability” — was at the top of the list.