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Gates talks up mobile ambition


Speaking at a conference organised by the Wall Street Journal in California yesterday, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has made comments implying that the firm may be preparing new initiatives in the portable device space.

"We are looking at various ways to bring more to that space," he commented in response to questioning about a possible portable media device, according to a report published by ZDNet. "There is a lot yet that hasn't been done."

However, his direct response to the question - which focused on the portable system that J Allard is allegedly working on with the Xbox team, according to journalist and author Dean Takahashi - was simply that "I have no announcement to make today."

While Gates didn't rule out the possibility of a portable media device - although other executives at Microsoft have stated openly in recent weeks that such a device is not currently on the cards - his choice of words certainly doesn't give much weight to claims that the firm is about to enter this space with a device of its own.

Microsoft is currently engaged in the portable space through a host of licensing agreements for portable versions of Windows on PDAs, smartphones and other such devices, as well as the recently launched "Origami" UMPC devices which are designed as extremely portable but fully functional Windows PCs. In addition, the firm's Windows Media Player software integrates with media players from a large number of third party companies.

Although rumours of the firm's imminent move into portable hardware have proved popular online, taken in light of the firm's previous actions in the space, Gates' comments are more likely to imply that Microsoft is planning further software and partnership initiatives aimed at competing more effectively with products like the iPod and PSP.

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