Vodafone and Microsoft joined forces today to launch a corporate email service to rival the BlackBerry.
Windows Mobile Email will enable phone users to receive emails from their office-based Microsoft Outlook package and edit Excel and Word attachments.
The product was publicised at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, the biggest mobile industry gathering of the year and comes at a time when BlackBerry’s manufacturer, Canadian company Research In Motion (RIM) is embroiled in a copyright dispute with US technology firm NTP.
In a joint statement Microsoft and Vodafone said Windows Mobile Email would be available in the UK, France and Germany from next month and would spread to other countries throughout the year.
Although the cost of the service is yet to be announced, it is expected to be competitive because corporate clients can use their existing Windows 2003 server to “push” work emails through to their phone using Direct Push Technology, rather than install a separate mobile server or use other email sites such as Yahoo or Hotmail to “pull” or retrieve their mail.
There are currently around 400 million Outlook users worldwide who could take advantage of the system.
Phones by handheld computer maker HTC are being used to market the product although the spokeswoman said it would work on other phones such as Motorola, as long as they were embedded with Windows Mobile 5.0 technology
Pieter Knook from Microsoft said: “It’s an exciting time for companies who are now realising the true business potential of mobile solutions for both the business and for their employees.”