Interview with Steve Lombardi, Technical Product Manager: Microsoft
MapPoint Business Unit on the Microsoft/AT&T Alliance
What areas are
covered by the AT&T/Microsoft alliance?
alliance was formed to dramatically simplify the way companies provide
integrated wireless data services to their employees. Now North
American companies and the mobile professionals, who work for them, can
be connected to valuable corporate information while on the go.
and Microsoft have developed and will distribute end-to-end solutions
for Microsoft® Windows® Powered Pocket PCs, Smartphones and laptops.
These solutions are designed to provide seamless, wireless access to
e-mail, information and applications behind corporate firewalls.
AT&T Wireless plans to be the first wireless carrier to offer new
enterprise-grade Microsoft .NET location-based services for mobile users
on both laptops and Pocket PCs, using MapPoint® .NET mapping and
location services and the .NET Compact Framework. As part of the
agreement, Microsoft and AT&T Wireless will collaborate on solution
development, joint sales and account planning, and marketing activities.
agreement, AT&T Wireless becomes the first mobile operator to announce
plans to deliver corporate location-based services built using the
Microsoft MapPoint .NET platform for mobile professionals. These newly
developed services will complement AT&T Wireless' recently introduced
location capabilities, and will include location-enabled instant
messaging for business work groups, locating contacts and personal
concierge services. This integration will unlock a new generation of
services that combine locating colleagues with capabilities such as
obtaining maps and driving directions, conducting proximity searches,
and finding destinations and points of interest near one's own or a
colleague's location. This solution is completely integrated with the
instant messenger and Outlook clients on Pocket PCs and notebooks.
What type of
wireless devices will AT&T release based on the Pocket PC Phone Edition
operating system and Microsoft's Smartphone operating system?
Central to the
agreement between Microsoft and AT&T Wireless is a commitment to deliver
Windows Powered devices.
When will these
devices be made available?
As part of the
agreement, AT&T Wireless plans to introduce a voice-enabled PDA, powered
by Microsoft Pocket PC Phone Edition software, later this year.
Microsoft's .NET Compact Framework technology
MapPoint .NET is
implemented as an XML web service. It has a SOAP API that allows
software developers to make programmatic calls to the service,
integrating Maps and location intelligence in their applications.
Microsoft’s .NET platform, along with Visual Studio .NET (Microsoft’s
Integrated Development Environment (IDE)), make it very easy to access
MapPoint .NET in this fashion when developing Web, Wireless, or desktop
applications. The .NET Compact Framework provides the same functionality
and programmatic support for XML Web services as its big brother, but it
has been slimmed down and optimized for mobile devices. Since the API’s
are the same in the .NET Compact Framework as the standard .NET
framework, moving code and applications from existing windows
applications is completely simple! This allows the huge base of Windows
developers to use their existing skills to build Mobile Location based
applications with no new training!
How is access to
Microsoft Exchange server and Microsoft Outlook client simplified?
To simplify the
deployment of the new devices for corporate information technology
managers, the two companies have developed a unique activation and
centralized provisioning process. The new equipment will come preloaded,
which eliminates the need for IT personnel to manually install
applications on each device. This expedites deployment times and lessens
the burden on today's ever-busy corporate IT departments.
To simplify access
from any wireless-ready laptop to Microsoft Exchange and the Microsoft
Outlook® messaging and collaboration client over corporate virtual
private networks (VPNs), the companies have developed a custom
one-button-synch software wizard that will provide easy access over the
AT&T Wireless high-speed data network.
What features will
Microsoft's Smartphone operating system have?
Pocket PC Phone
Edition devices are equipped with integrated Global System for Mobile
Communications (GSM)/General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) voice and data
calling capabilities, along with the features users expect from a
technology-leading PDA, including a bright color screen, stylish form
factor, contacts, calendar, inbox, Web browser and digital media
In addition, AT&T
Wireless plans to offer phones running Microsoft Windows Powered
Smartphone 2002 software. Smartphone 2002 supports wireless phones,
enabling customers to communicate via voice and text, and gain access to
their essential business and personal information.
What do you think
will be the biggest benefit to businesses and/or consumers resulting from
AT&T can provide
new, valuable services to their customers without the excessive cost of
developing and maintaining a location-based platform. The MapPoint .NET
platform makes it easy for developers to build LBS applications,
allowing carriers to leverage Microsoft’s large developer community.
increase business productivity by embedding location intelligence within
the context of their business processes. For example, LBS integrated
into a customer relationship management (CRM) application can exchange
up-to-date information between corporate headquarters and traveling
increase personal productivity by accessing location information within
the context of their lives. For example, they can locate friends and
family, and receive relevant traffic notifications and driving
Do you have anything
else to add?
services are a huge potential market. One of the barriers to this market
has been the lack of an LBS platform and the necessity for developers to
make large up-front investments to acquire high-level expertise in
location and mapping technologies. With the MapPoint .NET platform,
developers can easily build LBS applications using familiar development
tools and programming models without needing to be expert in location,
mapping or GIS technologies. This alliance is proof of that. I'm
excited for the broad adoption of these new applications!
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