Microsoft Releases Free UC Client For Nokia Handsets

Microsoft has released a free unified communications (UC) client that will allow workers to access their business communication system via their Nokia handsets

The mobile alliance between Nokia and Microsoft has stepped up a gear, after Redmond released a free communication application that will allow the two companies to take the fight to Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry handset.

The partnership between Microsoft and Nokia, announced in August, was designed to port a mobile version of Microsoft Office onto Nokia smartphones. The first fruit of the alliance, however, is Microsoft Communicator Mobile for Nokia devices.

Unified Communications

This unified communications (UC) client works only on Symbian-based Nokia handsets, and essentially allows users to sign into their corporate communications systems via their Nokia handsets.

These users can then see which of their colleagues are available, and choose how to communicate with them. This could be via instant messaging, email, text, or even just a humble telephone call. Users can also select their own presence status, so their workmates can see if they are available.

For users that have Nokia’s E72 and E52 smartphones, an English language version is now available to download from Nokia’s Ovi Store. The UC client will also be pre-installed on selected Nokia smartphones in the future.

“Our alliance with Nokia aims to bring the Office productivity experience to the millions of people using Nokia smartphones around the world,” said Kirt Debique, General Manager at Microsoft. “With the arrival of Communicator Mobile for Nokia today, we have a great start to fulfilling our joint vision.”

“This application really provides a much more efficient way to work with others as you can see if someone is busy or available, and the best way to start a conversation with them,” said Ukko Lappalainen, Vice President at Nokia. “It also meets all of the requirements for enterprise: cost effective to implement, secure, familiar and reliable.”

BlackBerry In The Crosshairs

There is little doubt that Microsoft and Nokia are gunning for the BlackBerry, which dominates the business segment. In an effort to safeguard its market share, RIM has not been sitting still. It recently introduced Wi-Fi support to its new BlackBerry Mobile Voice System 5, so that enterprise workers can use their landline phone number and extension from their BlackBerry smartphone.

RIM also recently unveiled the BlackBerry 6 operating system and a new web browser powered by WebKit, the same open source platform on which Google’s Android OS is based. Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis also said there are more than 41 million BlackBerry users currently, and he has vowed to double that number and eventually reach 100 million.

It remains to be seen how quickly the Microsoft Nokia UC client will be taken up by the business community, however. Mobile operator Vodafone, for example, think it will appeal to those businesses that have already deployed Communicator for the desktop.

“As part of our push to constantly enhance our unified communications proposition, we are keen to extend the collaborative benefits of Microsoft Communicator Mobile to Nokia devices,” said Scott Petty, Director at Vodafone Group Business Services. “Communicator Mobile offers great potential for our large corporate customer base who have already deployed Communicator for desktop and now are looking to extend that existing infrastructure to mobile.”