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Pocket PC to wed phone

Smart phones go beyond modems

Microsoft wireless plans for Pocket PC extend beyond adding modems to actually putting Pocket PC in a mobile phone.

At this week’s WirelessAgenda conference, Microsoft demonstrated wireless connectivity for the Pocket PC and previewed a prototype convergence phone with an integrated Pocket PC personal digital assistant built in. Other than showing a sneak peak of the software on the Stinger Smartphone, Microsoft would not comment on the device's manufacturers, pricing, or availability.

"The Stinger Smartphone is a scaled down Pocket PC with a phone," says Paul Gross, senior vice president of Microsoft's collaboration and mobility group.

Pocket PC features, such as your address book, integrate with the voice capabilities of the phone, says Brian Shafer, product manager for mobile devices at Microsoft. "You can search for someone from your contacts list and hit call," he says.

Microsoft is not the first to add a PDA to a phone, with Ericsson currently working on a Symbian-based PDA phone. Pocket PC is a heavier platform than Palm or Symbian, so it may not be able to squeeze into anything less than a mobile brick.

In addition to the all-in-one Stinger device, Microsoft demonstrated two ways you can use a mobile phone to access the wireless data on your Pocket PC. Socket Communications has a digital phone card that plugs into the CompactFlash slot on a Pocket PC and connects to a data phone by cable.

Rather than build a wireless modem into Pocket PCs, with the mobile phone model, customers maintain their accounts with their network provider, Shafer says.

Also, Bluetooth will enable wireless connectivity between a Pocket PC and a phone, he adds.

Socket is developing a Bluetooth card for the Hewlett Packard Jornada Pocket PC that would connect the device to a phone without using a cable. In a demonstration, the Bluetooth-enabled HP Jornada successfully recognised and communicated with another Bluetooth device, an Ericsson triband GSM phone.

"Microsoft is very excited about Bluetooth," Shafer says.

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