News from Mobile Congress 2008: MSN Direct; Danger acquisition; Sony Ericsson deal, and a Windows Live Mobile Dev announcement, whew!

msndirect_thumb News Quite a bit of Microsoft news coming out of the Mobile World Congress 2008, held in Barcelona, Spain.  The most recent news is a free Technology Preview of MSN Direct, the technology behind Spot watches and MSN Direct radios and navigation devices.  According to a press release, MSN Direct is now available for Windows Mobile phones:

With this technology preview, customers can receive instant access to information such as weather and stock updates; top news stories; and entertainment, sports and business news. The information is presented in a glanceable format, and is easily accessible directly from the home screen of a device. Content is automatically updated so that customers have immediate access to the content that matters most to them.

“This is the first time MSN Direct content has been made available to mobile phones, and it is a strong next step for the delivery of MSN Direct content where customers have said they need it the most,” said Eric Lang, general manager of the MSN Direct initiative at Microsoft. “We are excited about the opportunities this new application will bring to mobile operators, consumers and the industry.”

After installing the technology preview on the device, customers can select content based on relevancy and preference. For more in-depth information on the topics a person is exploring, MSN Direct provides links that connect users to the relevant areas of the popular MSN Mobile portal. Together, MSN Direct and MSN Mobile provide users with quick and easy options for getting current information while on the go.

MSN Direct is a free download, however it uses the phone’s data connection so there may be charges there depending on your data plan.  You can try it out either by going to http://phone.msndirect.com  on your phone and following the instructions, or to http://www.msndirect.com on your PC to learn more about MSN Direct and download the installation to your PC an transfer it via ActiveSync.

danger_thumb News Microsoft has also announced it has acquired Danger, Inc., the company behind the software running on the T-Mobile Sidekick.  From the press release:

Danger has connected with a customer base that is young and enthusiastic, Internet-savvy and socially inclined. The Danger team has a deep understanding of consumers and a hold on what people want from mobility, making it an ideal group to work with in delivering connected experiences. Adding Danger to the Entertainment and Devices Division will provide Microsoft with additional assets and resources that will accelerate the company’s entry into the consumer space and complement the company’s focus on delivering innovative technologies and services that connect people’s entertainment and information.

02-10xperia_thumb News And then probably the biggest mobile news for Microsoft, which came out over the weekend, is the announcement of a new Windows Mobile phone from Sony Ericsson, the XPERIA X1.  From the press release:

“The agreement between Microsoft and Sony Ericsson is undoubtedly a win-win for both companies,” said Lars Vestergaard, research director, European Wireless and Mobile Communications at IDC. “Marrying the power and ease of use of the Windows Mobile platform with the advanced consumer features Sony Ericsson is known for has the potential to reach the ‘sweet spot’ for mobile phones.”

The XPERIA X1 features include the following:

Unique arc slider with wide-pitch, easy-to-use QWERTY keyboard, 3-inch clear wide VGA display and high-quality high-finish metal body

Windows Mobile, HSDPA/HSUPA and Wi-Fi™ support so customers can enjoy their favorite entertainment and work efficiently on the move

XPERIA™ panels to navigate Web, multimedia and other applications with the tip of a finger

You can see a Flash demo of the new phone at Sony Ericsson X1.

msnmobile_thumb News Then finally, in another press release, Microsoft has announced a new version of Windows Live Mobile Developer, and Windows Live @ Mobile.  From THAT press release:

These latest updates to the Windows Live Mobile Developer Program include new features to Microsoft’s Mobile Services Protocol and a new software development kit (SDK), enabling developers to create mobile versions of Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Spaces that can work on any phone operating system. These updates give developers the capability to create applications with an exceptional user experience and more advanced functionality, all built on a WS*-compliant protocol. (…)

Microsoft is also announcing the availability of Windows Live @mobile, a program that enables mobile operators to deploy a set of standard Microsoft mobile services such as Windows Live for Mobile and MSN Mobile to their customers quickly and efficiently. These standard deals support different business models, providing operators with several choices, including subscriptions, transactions or advertising so they fit with their existing business or new business ideas. Operators can choose to deploy browser-based services that work on nearly any phone with a data plan or with any of the certified third-party clients developed by Microsoft partners.

While these programs are for phone operators and not independent developers, you can still learn a bit more about them at msnmobile.members.winisp.net