Microsoft aims to chip away at RIM's mobile-messaging dominance by enhancing the productivity of mobile workers. Windows Mobile 6.0 offers improved Office capabilities on phones and PocketPCs. The company is also betting deeper integration with Exchange 2007 will appeal to both enterprise users and administrators.
Microsoft's edge against BlackBerry comes in the applications department, where organizations can use the same development environment for both desktop and mobile apps. Against Symbian, which dominates the overseas smartphone market, Microsoft can more tightly integrate its mobile client with its groupware, as it owns the market with Exchange. And the client comes free with the mobile OS, unlike Good, Intellisync, Seven and so on.
For pure mobile e-mail, the integration of Windows Mobile 6.0 and Microsoft Exchange 2007 maintain Windows as a serious contender to RIM. However, 6.0 still doesn't deliver a knock-out blow. RIM does a better job in both management and corporate data access.
Microsoft has yet to outdo Research In Motion when it comes to mobile e-mail capabilities. But Windows Mobile 6.0, Microsoft's latest offering, does all the right things to keep itself on RIM's heels. Atop the list is a deeper integration with Exchange 2007, which leverages Microsoft's dominance in enterprise e-mail.
But that's not all. Microsoft has strengthened developer support, enhanced Wi-Fi configuration, added encrypted storage, introduced new remote file access features and snuck in SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) support, just to name a few features. Toss in a refreshed user interface and you've got a system with real enterprise appeal and a formidable challenger to RIM and other mobile e-mail vendors.
However, though enterprises will appreciate the added features in Windows Mobile 6.0, there are a few gotchas we discovered during our tests. And while we were impressed with the progress Windows Mobile has made, its new features aren't worth ripping out existing Windows Mobile 5.0 deployments. Overall, RIM's OS still leads the way as a secure, mobile e-mail platform. Microsoft still has catch-up work to do, particularly with device management.