Microsoft SmartPhone: Impressive Bridge Between Current Handsets and PC Functionality

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Microsoft SmartPhone: Impressive Bridge Between Current Handsets and PC Functionality
Sep 13, 2001
Devin Pike, Senior Editor, AnywhereYouGo.com

Let’s get this out of the way right now — it’s not called Stinger anymore.

Microsoft’s data-enabled phone, called Stinger in the early stages of development, will now be known as the Microsoft SmartPhone. A beta build of the phone was demonstrated at M bius 2001 by Brian Shafer, Mobile Devices Product Manager, and Erick Eidus, Smart Phones Product Planner.

“We looked at the user’s experience for the SmartPhone as moving up from [data-enabled] phones, instead of down from PCs,” Eidus said.

The ‘Today’ screen from the Microsoft SmartPhone is previewed for the M bius attendees

Four manufacturers will initially produce the Microsoft SmartPhone: Sendo, HTC, Mitsubishi, and Samsung. More manufacturers might step in at a later date for future iterations of the phone. The phone shown in the demo looked closely based on Mitsubishi’s T250 form factor, with smaller dimensions for the phone, especially the keypad.

The SmartPhone demonstrated at M bius was a GSM phone, and Eidus said that GPRS support would be built-in when the phones begin shipping in the first half of 2002.

The dynamics for the SmartPhone will be slightly different from previous data-enabled phones, with the emphasis being on the 176 x 220 pixel display. The SmartPhone has been authored to be a color platform, with screens in either color or black-and-white (depending on the manufacturer). The model demonstrated at M bius used a black-and-white screen.

The phone averages 130 CCs in weight, making it slightly lighter than most WAP phones, according to Shafer (I didn’t have a scale to start weighing phones, so I’ll take Brian at his word).

All navigation on the phone will be using a five-directional nav disk (four sides, and center for the ‘enter’ function’). The phones will not use a Touchscreen display.

While users are on voice calls, they can use the phone’s on-board applications such as PIM functions and non-data call related apps.

As for the applications on the SmartPhone, since the phone’s operating system is built on top of the current version of Windows CE, Pocket PC applications should be easily ported to the phone. Third-party developers who want to submit apps to carriers can use a publicly available SDK, which will be distributed through Microsoft Developer network (MSDN) once the phone nears launch.

The on-board data browser will be Microsoft’s Mobile Internet Explorer, which will support HTML, WAP, and HDML.

Desktop synchronization can be achieved by either cradle sync, or wirelessly. The SmartPhone versions of the calendar, Outlook, and personal information management (PIM) tools will all be syncable. Infrared support would be built in as well, to allow beaming of contacts and other information between the phone and Pocket PC and Palm devices.

The phone will be nothing short of revolutionary, but also needs to be a phone that works right out of the box.

“Carriers have to be assured that they won’t be getting tech support calls about the phone,” Shafer said.

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