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Does MS care about WinCE, or is the mobile browser the platform?
Posted: 13-Dec-1999 [Source: The Register]

[This article from "The Register" attempts to read between the lines about Microsoft's motivations with its Ericsson joint venture.]

by John Lettice -- "The various Microsoft and Ericsson participants in the announcement of this week's mobile market alliance were at some pains - Ericsson reps in particular - to point out that it did not cover Windows CE, and did not affect Ericsson's plans for Symbian. Habitual Microsoft watchers however noted MS president Steve Ballmer's statement that the new double act provided "a good forum for discussion of future opportunities." And we know what kind of future opportunities Steve has in mind, don't we?

"Well, not necessarily. A bit of reading between the lines of the various conference calls that have taken place over the past couple of days, plus a bit of background, suggests that maybe Microsoft doesn't care that much about CE at all, and that maybe, with exquisite irony, it's stealing a leaf out of Netscape's book, and giving the middleware concept a jolly good blurring for luck.

"Current perceptions of Microsoft's intentions are generally based on the "Windows Everywhere" strategy, and as far as CE is concerned that means most analysts take the view that Microsoft's ultimate objective is to get CE accepted in the mobile, device, appliance and TV markets as a standard platform of equivalent ubiquity to Windows in the PC market. Apply this view to the Ericsson deal and the process goes something like this: Ericsson's adoption of Microsoft's Mobile Explorer microbrowser plus its participation in a joint venture company with Microsoft constitutes a foot in the door for the boys from Redmond, who will then contrive to embrace and extend their way through Ericsson's operations until CE does in fact triumph.

"Microsoft only has itself to blame if people think this kind of stuff, and after all the hoo-ha about integration of browsers it only has itself to blame when people assume an MS browser automatically comes with an MS operating system attached. But actually, with Mobile Explorer, this isn't the case; not yet anyway (Microsoft only has itself to blame when people say this too). The Mobile Explorer announcement was to some extent eclipsed by the announcement of the Ericsson deal, but look at the small print, and compare it with what Ballmer was saying about the market later, and a different picture emerges.

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