Microsoft unveils Peabody mobile phone platform

Microsoft announced a new mobile phone platform and service delivery software at 3GSM on Monday.

Microsoft fleshed out its mobile software strategy on Monday, targeting original equipment manufacturers (OEM) with a mobile software platform, telecom operators with applications for managing the delivery of converged services, and, of course, consumers, with a glimpse of upcoming devices based on its Windows Mobile software.

The new offerings were unveiled at the 3GSM World Congress show taking place this week in Cannes.

The GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) mobile phone platform is called Peabody and is being offered under a partnership with electronics manufacturing services provider Flextronics. The platform is based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile software and will be designed and integrated for OEMs by Flextronics.

Peabody offers mobile phone makers over 18,000 applications for building custom handsets, including video, photo and gaming options. It aims to provide OEMS with a wide range of options so that can design phones quickly for the fast-moving market, they added.

Concurrent with the platform launch, Flextronics announced that it is also developing a family of devices based on the next generation of Windows Mobile software for GSM, GPRS and EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) networks.

Phone makers aren't the only telecom players in Microsoft's sights. The company is also targeting fixed line and wireless operators with software that helps them deliver converged voice and data services over multiple networks and devices. The Microsoft Connected Services Framework is server-based software that works with a suite of Microsoft products such as BizTalk Server, SQL Server, Windows Server and Visual Studio .NET, to offer a platform for creating, managing and delivering services, it said.

The framework will help operators to reduce the time and cost of service deployment, the Redmond, Washington, software vendor said. Operators BT Group, Bell Canada International and Celcom Malaysia have signed up for the offering, Microsoft said.

Mobile phone users weren't left out of the product parade, with T-Mobile USA and HTC saying they will offer the first Windows Mobile-based device for 3G (third-generation) services later this year. Called the MDA IV, it will offer UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System), GPRS and WLAN (wireless local area network) services as well as Bluetooth connectivity, with a QWERTY keyboard and integrated camera, the companies said.

Long-time Microsoft partner Hewlett-Packard also took the opportunity to show off a new Windows Mobile-based device on Monday, the iPaq Mobile Messenger. The new iPaq is aimed at professionals and offers wireless voice, high-speed EDGE data networking and Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation. HP said earlier this month that the iPAQ Mobile Messenger would be available in the second quarter of this year, and that pricing was still being determined.

3GSM runs through Thursday.