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October 7, 1999

Smart Cards to Get Windows With GSM Support

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft Corp is to finally start shipping its Windows for Smart Cards operating system November 15, and announced yesterday that GSM phone support upgrades will be available in January. Microsoft’s smart cards group development director, Philippe Goetschel said the SIM cards, made by Sagem SA, will be demonstrated at the Telecom 99 trade show next week.

The selling point, according to Goetschel, is that the OS will enable existing Microsoft developers to use the same toolkit – Visual C++ and Visual Basic – as for other Windows flavors. Although Microsoft is best known for the enormous sizes of its systems, the card Windows ranges in size from 16K to 32K, depending on how many features have been installed. Microsoft boasts that applications written for the new OS will work across all cards installed with it, but compatibility issues do arise when the VB virtual machine or cryptography features are unbolted.

The company says it chose Sagem because it was the only mobile handset maker with expertise in SIM cards as well as handsets. In addition, the heavyweight manufacturers like Nokia Oy, Motorola Inc and LM Ericsson Telefon AB are all members of Symbian, the alliance that uses a non-Windows OS in its devices. Sagem has Windows CE burnt into it, but Microsoft stresses that Windows For Smart Cards works even if the device equipped with CE.

The company claims to be in talks with some big service providers to sell the cards, and says it has one already signed up. The cards can be used, says Goetschel, to allow mobile operators to sell services such as access to email, calendaring, stock quotes and other online information, presumably via Microsoft Exchange Server (although not exclusively).

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