Microsoft debuts Smartphones, Wireless Pocket PCs

Microsoft Corp. and its manufacturing partners debuted gadgets based on its new Wireless Pocket PC platform at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes on Feb. 19. Attendees are being given a hands-on sneak peek at the Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition and the Windows-Powered Smartphone 2002 device (previously known by the code name Stinger), which will go on sale from partners in Europe and U.S. by the end of June.

The Smartphone devices are primarily mobile phones with some PDA (personal digital assistant) functions, while the new Pocket PCs are PDAs that also act as mobile phones, said Magnus Ahlberg, Microsoft’s mobile marketing manager EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa).

Carriers that sell the Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition devices will most likely use their own brand names. The first branded Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition devices will be the HP Jornada 928 Wireless Digital Assistant (WDA) from Hewlett-Packard Co. and the XDA from U.K.-based mobile phone operator mmO2 PLC, he said.

The carriers that will brand the various devices will release prices for the products shortly, Ahlberg said, though he expect the devices would be competitively priced so as to compete with products already on the market.

Since announcing last year that it will jump into the highly competitive PDA market with the likes of Handspring Inc. and its combined mobile phone-PDA Treo and Research In Motion Ltd.’s Blackberry wireless e-mail device, Microsoft has wasted little time in promoting its plans for the Pocket PC platform. At the CES trade show in Las Vegas in January, Microsoft began outlining details for products that blend telephony functions with PDAs. Microsoft is now showing off the actual devices.

“By offering both the Pocket PC Wireless and the Smartphones, we are trying to cater to all needs across the market. For example, the Smartphones, which are being branded by Orange (SA, the French mobile phone group owned by France T