Microsoft Unveils Push Email for Windows Mobile 5.0

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When Microsoft took the wraps off Windows Mobile 5.0 last month, little mention was made of one its most anticipated features: push email.

It took care of that today by announcing the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0 and Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2.

What Is Push Email?

Traditional email is pull email, in which a device occasionally asks a server if there’s any new messages. In push email, as soon as an incoming email arrives on the server, it is pushed out to the device, and the user is immediately notified of it.

Push email is widely credited as being the secret of the success of RIM’s BlackBerry line of wireless handhelds. Thanks mostly to this one feature, RIM is now the number one producer of handhelds in the world.

Other companies are eager to imitate this success, and have been developing their own devices with push email.

One of these companies is Microsoft, hence today’s announcement it is going to bring this feature to all Windows Mobile 5.0 devices that want it.

And because this is Microsoft, it has an advantage RIM doesn’t have. To implement its version of Push email, companies will only need to install a service pack on their Exchange server. Other solutions require a dedicated push email server between Exchange and the client devices.

The Messaging and Security Feature Pack will bring more than Push email. It will also automatically synchronize the user’s calendar, contacts, and Tasks. It will even allow for over-the-air lookup of global address list information stored on the Exchange Server.

Safer and More Secure

With the Exchange Server 2003 console, IT administrators will be able to remotely manage and enforce select corporate IT policies over the air. For example, IT administrators will be able to require that a personal identification number password to be set for every device, and set recommended and mandatory policies, as well as set exception lists for users to be exempt from these policies.

This software will support local and remote device wipe. This means that if a device is lost or stolen, administrators will have the ability to remove all information on it, over the air, and reset it to its original state.

In addition, the administrator can choose to have the local memory on a device erased if the correct password is not entered after a designated number of attempts.

Microsoft did not say when this software will be released, but the first Windows Mobile 5.0 devices and upgrades aren’t expected until late summer.

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