CANNES, France -- PC technology giants Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. today announced a joint initiative to develop reference design platforms for next-generation personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smart phones. The two companies said the lack of industry standards in wireless communications systems was holding back the spread of smart phones and next-generation PDAs.
Announced at the start of the 3GSM World Congress cell-phone conference here, the two companies said their reference designs will be based on the Microsoft Windows Powered Pocket PC and Smartphone 2002 software platforms and the Intel Personal Internet Client Architecture, known as Intel PCA.
While Microsoft is teaming with Intel, the software giant is also working with other suppliers of ICs for cellular phone platforms. Microsoft and Texas Instruments Inc. today announced design platforms for smart phones, based on TI's OMAP digital signal processor (see today's story).
Aiming at a broader target, the Intel-Microsoft partnership intends to provide large and small manufacturers with a "foundation for quickly bringing powerful, Windows Powered mobile devices to market," said Ben Waldman, vice president for Microsoft's Mobile Devices Division. "Ultimately, we're striving to bring down the barriers to entry for device manufacturers and paving the way for a market explosion of innovative, smart devices at low cost, which will benefit customers, carriers and the industry at large," he stated.
The launch of the initiative comes as chip makers and systems software suppliers are teaming up to bundle reference designs for next-generation mobile phones and handheld terminals. On Monday, cellular phone giant Nokia Group and digital-signal processor leader TI announced collaboration on "complete solutions" for 2.5- and 3G cellular phones, based on the OMAP DSP engine, chip sets, and software from Nokia (see Feb. 18 story).
Intel and Microsoft appear to be aiming to set platform standards for wireless handsets and PDAs similar to the way that the two companies created personal computer standards in the 1980s. As part of the initiative, Microsoft said it will support the Intel PCA as a "development blueprint" for building wireless handheld devices that combine voice communications and Internet-access capabilities.
Key components for the Intel PCA include processors--such as the Intel's StrongARM-based central processing unit for Pocket PC-based PDAs and the new PXA250 applications processor--as well as baseband chip sets and flash memory from the Santa Clara, Calif., semiconductor giant.
"As the wireless handset industry integrates data, the combined solutions of Intel and Microsoft will enable wireless devices and applications to effectively become part of the enterprise environment at global businesses," predicted Ron Smith, senior vice president and general manager of the Wireless Communications and Computing Group at Intel.