[unrev-II] [Fwd: Microsoft rivals seek data synchronisation standard (2/22/2000)]

From: Eric Armstrong (eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com)
Date: Tue Feb 22 2000 - 12:32:57 PST

From: Eric Armstrong <eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com>

The move towards data-standardization begins!!!

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Microsoft rivals seek data synchronisation standard (2/22/2000)

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Microsoft rivals seek data synchronisation standard (2/22/2000)
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Posted at 6:29 a.m. PST Tuesday, February 22, 2000

Microsoft rivals seek data synchronisation standard


LONDON, Feb 22 (Reuters) - British handheld computer maker Psion Plc said on Tuesday it had set up an alliance to establish a lingua franca for all computers to exchange data, but Microsoft was missing from its list of partners.

If it works, it could banish the irritation for consumers of trying to keep neat and updated all their files, emails or address lists spread across a growing number of computers -- at work, at home, on a laptop or a mobile phone.

Analysts said it could be a key advance of the mobile Internet, unlocking networked data for all wireless devices.

Founding partners of the initiative include International Business Machines Corp and its Lotus subsidiary, cellphone makers Nokia and Motorola, Psion's palmtop rival Palm Inc and Starfish Software.

The data synchronisation system, called SyncML, will be based on Extensible Markup Language or XML, a new advanced computer language developed from HTML, in which Internet pages are written.

``The SyncML Initiative is open for industry partners to join in developing the specification,'' Psion said.


Software giant Microsoft and cellphone maker Ericsson weren't on the list and Psion declined to comment on whether they had been invited to join at the start.

``We are creating an open standard, they will be able to join in on the same basis as everybody else,'' a spokesman said.

Without Microsoft, which was not immediately available for comment, the group would have to fight to establish an industry standard.

Psion is already leading a consortium called Symbian that is battling Microsoft's pared-down Windows CE to establish Psion's EPOC operating system as the standard for mobile devices.

But Nomura technology analyst Nainish Bapna said an industry standard based on an open system should be good for everybody.

``There is no reason why Microsoft should be obstructive to this,'' he said. ``XML is the future of the Web.''

Psion shares shot up 14.5 percent to 55.85 pounds by 1230 GMT -- more than doubling this year and propelling the company towards Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 when the index membership is reviewed next month.

IBM gave the company a huge boost earlier this month when, in a foretaste of the SyncML alliance, it said the two of them would create software giving access to Web and corporate data from EPOC mobile devices.


The SyncML partnership aims to develop a way for computer users on the move easily to swap, synchronise and update data, from address lists to chunky files.

The information should be accessible on any device -- from a corporate server to a mobile phone -- wherever it is stored and in whatever form. Employees will never be free again -- they will be able to access all corporate information on any device.

The SyncML group hopes to define the specifications for its new standard later this year.

Currently, data synchronisation is based on multiple sets of different protocols -- the coding systems through which computers can communicate with each other. Each one functions with a limited number of data types, devices or systems.

SyncML aims for ``universal interoperability.''

Easier use for consumers took a step forward last year when 3Com Inc -- which is to float off a stake in its Palm Inc arm soon -- did a deal to add Symbian's EPOC software to its devices, which use a different operating system.

``SyncML shows Psion and Palm getting even closer,'' Nomura's Bapna said.

Psion, whose price/earnings ratio of 232 before Tuesday's rise was already in UK technology's top 10, is the largest shareholder in Symbian, a joint venture with Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola and Matsushita.

Ericsson rattled the cart last year by announcing a deal to also work with Microsoft on mobile devices, but it said this did not threaten its relationship with Sybmian.

Its absence from SyncML puts fresh question marks over its role.


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