Microsoft reveals 'My Phone' backup, sync service

A potential competitor to Apple's MobileMe, the My Phone service is coming soon and will be free, compatible with phones powered by Windows Mobile 6 or later

Just hours after Microsoft Corp. accidently launched, then yanked, a Web site promoting its new "My Phone" backup and sync service, the company restored the site and posted more information about the free service.

Late Friday, Microsoft restored the My Phone site, which said the service is "Coming soon." In a separate announcement posted to several Web sites, the company said that more information about the invite-only beta would be given out at the GSMA World Mobile Congress, which opens Feb. 16 in Barcelona, Spain.

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is slated to give a keynote speech at the trade show on Feb. 17.

Earlier, Endgadget Mobile reported that the My Phone site was live at the domain. Later, Microsoft acknowledged the screw-up. "Today, Microsoft's My Phone Web site went live prior to its scheduled debut," the company said, several sites reported. Currently, -- a reference to the "SkyBox" code name of the service -- shunted users to the My Phone site.

According to the information now posted to the site, users of My Phone will be able to back up contacts, calendar appointments, text messages, photos, and other information online; share those photos with others; update the information from a computer using a Web-based interface; and use the stored data to restore a phone transfer it to a new device.

Microsoft said it would give each user 200MB of storage space, but warned that only phones powered by Windows Mobile 6 or later would be compatible with the service. In fact, it hedged: "Most phones that run the Windows Mobile 6 operating system are compatible with My Phone service," said the service's site.

Although not strictly billed as a phone-to-PC sync service, My Phone will synchronize Windows Live contacts -- assuming Windows Live has been installed on the phone -- with those on the Windows Live Web site. However, My Phone will not sync contacts, e-mail messages, or to-do tasks with an Exchange mail server. Phone data will be backed up to the remote servers automatically once per day, said Microsoft, although users can manually trigger a backup at any time.

My Phone is a potential competitor to Apple Inc.'s MobileMe, which debuted last July but got off to a very rocky start. MobileMe, however, costs $99 annually, while My Phone will be free, said Microsoft.

MobileMe offers considerably more storage space -- 20GB -- and synchronizes e-mail, contact, and tasks between not only Apple's iPhone and a PC or Mac, but also between multiple computers.

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This story, "Microsoft reveals 'My Phone' backup, sync service" was originally published by Computerworld.