Microsoft Windows Media
Microsoft has learned its lesson tooby not entering the desktop streaming arena on time, it allowed its competition to increase their market shareand the core development of Windows Media Player version 7.0 includes support for handheld devices as well as portable phones and other Web appliances. When Windows Media Player version 7.0 was released, it was able to play audio only on Windows CE version 2.0 and on the first release of PocketPC. A few months later, the official version of Windows Media Player for PocketPC was released, followed by compatible players that can now play audio and video on all PocketPC-based devices. In an effort to keep its leading position in the software market for mobile devices, Microsoft engaged in talks with the Japanese NTT DoCoMo. At the end of 2000, the two companies offered a service in Japan in which NTT DoCoMo uses Microsoft's software to play music and video clips on cell phone devices and on the new Japanese hit wireless device, Eggy. NTT DoCoMo's Eggy currently lets users in Japan view ads and brief video clips and to capture and send video images over wireless networks.
Windows Media technology is following the path of many other Microsoft products that have made their way to mobile devices. Pocket-PC2002 offers additional solutions that were used before only in desktops or laptops. Good examples are Microsoft's Terminal Service, which provides remote management of servers, VPN clients, SQL pocket server, and hardware that connects handheld devices to wall projectors. Because enterprises are struggling to enable their employees with portable devices that improve productivity and expand their business, it is expected that streaming applications will be part of future mobile technologies. These mobile solutions will provide one- or two-way video and audio communications over IP networks.
In a recent conversation with Microsoft executives, I learned that although the company seeks the development of software to play multimedia on Web appliances and various mobile devices, it acknowledges that the current infrastructure in North America will limit the ability to stream media to such devices for at least a few years. At the present time, Microsoft is directing its resources to continuing the support of handheld devices using 802.11b WLANs. Microsoft foresees an increasing demand for PocketPC devices in enterprises. Considering the hardware and software advantages of PocketPC devices and the large group of vendors developing applications that will improve productivity and speed up data processing, Microsoft predicts handhelds will change the way we process information at work and on the road. The big picture includes support for streaming media and full integration with NET frames.
The release of Microsoft Producer (an additional member of the Office family) provides a better understanding of Microsoft's plans for streaming media within enterprises. In past years, Microsoft Office applications have acquired over 75% of the market share among businesses. Word is an official document processor, Excel is an official spreadsheet, and PowerPoint is widely used by sales and marketing people. In late 2001, in an attempt to cash in on the recognition of these three leading applications, Microsoft included Producer in Office 2002. The application creates presentations combining HTML images, PowerPoint slides, and streaming media into compelling LAN- or Web-based presentations. The idea behind Producer is the integration of all tools into one product. Once you have installed Office 2002, you have all these tools at your fingertips. How will this affect the popularity of PocketPC? Think big. Streaming media were introduced to desktops and then migrated to mobile devices. The same is expected to happen with presentation tools. In the near future, handheld devices running PocketPC are expected to become valuable tools in enterprises, delivering information in the form of media, text, and images. This will result in increased individual productivity, improving companies' overall efficiency.