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Is Microsoft Meshing with the Enterprise?

New details about Microsoft's plans to integrate new services with its smartphone strategy emerged over the weekend.

As ADTmag.com Editor Jeffrey Schwartz explained in his article "Microsoft Readies MyPhone Service," the folks in Redmond plan to offer a service to Windows Mobile 6.x users that would allow them to store their contacts, calendars and the like and synchronize that data via a password-protected Web site.

MyPhone follows the Windows Live mantra of calling all consumers -- an interesting tactic since Windows Mobile is largely entrenched in the enterprise.

With the MyPhone preview, Schwartz wrote:

"MyPhone services will not work with active connections to Microsoft Exchange Servers. It won't synchronize data on separate memory cards when using MyPhone's default settings, nor will it synch contacts on the device's SIM card. Users can only synchronize files stored in the main My Documents account, and free storage will be limited to 200 megabytes."

The My Phone service sounds similar to Apple's MobileMe service. However, MobileMe -- when it's working -- also synchronizes data among computers and "i" devices.

Microsoft's approach to keeping it all in synch is Live Mesh, the downloadable PC software currently in beta that extends Windows to the Web to enable synchronization and sharing of data and devices. Currently, the beta offers limited availability to Mac and Windows Mobile 6 clients.

The Live Mesh app is built on top of the Live Framework, introduced at the Professional Developers Conference as part of the Azure Services Platform. The Live Framework is described as a "uniform" way for developers to program against Live Services, which are integrated with Microsoft's Live Mesh platform. The dev tooling consists of an operating system -- described by Microsoft as the CLR for Software Plus Services -- and a resource-based architecture that allows developers to program against Live Services from any device, platform, client or cloud, according to Microsoft. Earlier this month, Microsoft released the second preview, the Live Framework Tools January CTP.

What does this all mean for corporate developers? Microsoft is positioning its "Live" technologies toward consumers -- or, as Redmond likes to call them, "individuals." Will Microsoft extend these technologies to work with enterprise dev platforms?

"I believe that most enterprise IT shops view Live Mesh and the Live Operating Environment [LOE, formerly Mesh Operating Environment or MOE] as the devil incarnate," said Roger Jennings, principal of Oakleaf Systems, in an e-mail. "The IT folks I work with don't like users replicating confidential info to their motor homes, refrigerators and toasters. There are big-time SOX and HIPAA implications here."

Jennings added, "The other problem I see with LOE as a developer topic is that most development will be in the form of open source mash-ups and the like with no prospects for income for independent developers or ROI for enterprise developers."

Is Microsoft headed in the right direction with MyPhone and Live Mesh? What about Windows Mobile's enterprise user base? Express your thoughts on all things Live at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 02/10/2009

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