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Report from Redmond

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Oct 17, 2002, 7:00 PM   by Rich Brome

Microsoft Mobius 2002. The latest scoop on Windows Powered Smartphone, Pocket PC Phone Edition, and everything Microsoft and Mobile. Reporting direct from Microsoft HQ.

If you've been following the industry lately, you've probably heard a few things about Microsoft's current push into the mobile market. The most visible part of Microsoft's strategy in this area are their two mobile operating systems: Pocket PC Phone Edition and Windows Powered Smartphone. Pocket PC Phone Edition is pretty straightforward - it's simply Pocket PC 2002 with integrated wireless data and voice features. Smartphone is the new kid on the block; it is, in many ways, a whole new class of device. This report will cover both OSs, but with an emphasis on Smartphone, since it is probably of most interest to people on this site. (And the PDA sites do a much better job of covering the Pocket PC devices.)

What Is Mobius?

The Internet is jam-packed with independent sites dedicated to, well, just about anything you can imagine - phonescoop.com being a perfect example. Some sites deal with products or services from specific companies. Different companies have varied approaches to this. Fortunately, Microsoft is not only cooperative - they actually reach out and actively support these online communities.

Mobius is an event that embodies that strategy. Microsoft flew about 25 of us web geeks out to Redmond for a weekend. We listened to a parade of Microsoft people talk about their latest stuff, we got to ask questions of Microsoft product managers, and we gave Microsoft some feedback about their products. It was also a great opportunity to get to know each other, talk about the mobile industry, and just hang out.

Naturally, Microsoft doesn't do this just to be nice - they want good "grass roots" publicity, and so this is sort of a guerilla-marketing thing. But it's not totally self-serving for them, either. Open communication and strong communities help everyone be better-informed, which benefits everyone.

Unfortunately, but understandably, Microsoft wasn't able to share much with us in the way of unannounced products. But they were able to give us a complete picture of their strategy, in relatively non-marketing terms, which I found quite helpful. They were also able to answer our questions. So I'll try to give you as unbiased a report as I can, framed in the context of the mobile phone industry. Hopefully you'll find some interesting and useful information in the following pages.

Just to be totally clear and up-front - this report is from an all-expenses-paid trip to Redmond, paid for by Microsoft. I'm not publishing this because Microsoft wanted me to, (there was no request or obligation for me to publish anything,) but because I think readers of this site might find this information interesting, and perhaps even helpful. I'm sure Microsoft is happy I'm doing this, but I've tried to be an unbiased as possible. In case there's any subconscious bias here, at least you can judge this artcle with full knowledge of the context, and interpret it as you see fit. Now with that out of the way, on to the report!

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