Wi-Fi Industry Backs Microsoft Mobile Software

By Eric Griffith

June 24, 2003

The software giant's announcement of a new PDA operating system with mobility software has garnered support from Wi-Fi and hotspot companies like Boingo, Wayport, T-Mobile, PCTEL, and Socket Communications.

When a big industry leader like Microsoft makes a big announcement, always expect several smaller announcements from companies using or supporting whatever Microsoft announced. The new Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PC operating system and the new Windows Mobile brand is no different. Already today companies like Dell, JVC, Toshiba's Computer Systems Group (CSG), Cenuco, and Symbol have announced products that will run the software.

This announcement, however, is a little different because Windows Mobile includes built in support for 802.11-based wireless networking. So a number of hotspot providers and Wi-Fi software vendors are also supporting Microsoft's new OS for personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smartphones.

Microsoft is partnering with hotspot companies T-Mobile Hotspot, Boingo Wireless, and Wayport to promote use of PocketPC PDAs at hotspots. Anyone purchasing a Windows Mobile devices gets 30 days free access with any of the above providers before they have to subscribe. The software in Windows Mobile automatically seeks out and connects to available Wi-Fi connections. The promotion only extends through August 23.

Boingo, which aggregates other people's Wi-Fi hotspot networks under its umbrella virtual network of 1,300 locations, has made a beta version of its own Boingo Software client available for Windows Mobile, called Pocket Boingo. It's an updated version of the PocketPC for 2002 version that came out last year.

Other Wi-Fi software support comes from PCTEL, which announced a version of it's Segue Roaming Client for Wi-Fi that supports Windows Mobile (it also runs on desktop versions of Windows) and Columbitech, which is adding Windows Mobile support to its Columbitech Wireless Suite which provides virtual private network (VPN) services to the PDA OS.

Finally, Socket Communications, which will hopefully soon be announcing availability of Secure Digital Input/Output (SDIO) form factor Wi-Fi cards for PDAs, is going to make those cards and its line of Compact Flash interface Wi-Fi cards ready to work with Windows Mobile. The company is also offering a $40 rebate on it's Low Power CF WLAN card for 60 days (again, through August 23).

802.11 Planet Conference Microsoft will be showing its new Wi-Fi capable OS as one of many exhibitors this week at the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo, June 25 - 27, 2003 at the World Trade Center Boston in Boston, MA. Come and see them!



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