Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US), the world's largest software maker, plans to add features for finding e-mail and managing address books to its operating system for mobile phones and handheld computers.
The updated software, Windows Mobile 6, will be made available Feb. 12 to makers of phones and other devices and should be in models within the next few months, said Suzan DelBene, vice president for the company's mobile-device marketing. Microsoft will unveil the software at the 3GSM World Congress conference in Barcelona, Spain.
The company wants to take more customers from Nokia Oyj and Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry e-mail device, by offering features that help workers use corporate e-mail and business programs on mobile devices. Microsoft took a bigger share of sales (MSFT:US) of handheld computers from Research In Motion last year, according to market research firm Gartner Inc.
Shares of Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft fell 14 cents to $29.37 as of 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading (MSFT:US). The shares have gained 9 percent in the past year.
The new software lets customers search for e-mail stored on the company's Microsoft Exchange mail server, even if the message is not on the phone itself.
The software includes improvements to mobile versions of Microsoft's Office programs, such as its Outlook e-mail, contacts and calendar product. When scheduling a meeting, for instance, users can now see who else was invited and whether they plan to attend.
New security features allow a company to encrypt a phone's storage card and erase everything on the device if the phone is lost.
The software also offers a new Windows Live search engine that combines Internet search with the ability to find and map nearby locations, DelBene said.
Microsoft is taking on Google Inc. (GOOG:US), the most popular search engine, which has about five times as much traffic as Microsoft's search engine. Vodafone Group Plc, the world's biggest mobile- phone company, includes Google's Internet search on its handsets. Motorola Inc., the world's second-biggest maker of mobile phones, also has Google's search on some models.
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