All too often, key personnel are forced to accept a lower quality of computing when away from the office, due to the lack of proper hardware, software, and support. Providing adequate support for mobile computer users is particularly challenging for busy, rapidly growing organizations with limited IT resources.
The latest developments in laptop computers, operating systems, communications, and business applications make it possible to increase the productivity of mobile computer users, and at the same time make them less dependent on remote support.
Microsoft Windows XP and Office XP, for example, have features specifically designed to enhance the working lives of both mobile users and the IT professionals who support them. These features include virtually automatic "one-touch" network connections, and extensive interactive help functions. According to Greg Sullivan, lead product manager for the Windows Desktop Product Marketing Group at Microsoft, "With Win XP we've done a ton of work, not just to support the 'plumbing,' so that you can do wireless networking in the office, at home, and on the road, but we've also really thought about the end experience - what the mobile worker is going to be doing."
Until recently, mobile workers who wanted to access wireless LANs on the road had to do a significant amount of fiddling with the hardware and software to get it to work. "This was a real obstacle for all non-technical users," says Sullivan, " but especially for the small and or medium-size business that doesn't have a large, dedicated IT staff. In fact, this complexity was a barrier that prevented a lot of smaller businesses from taking full advantage of this powerful technology."
With the new intelligent networking capabilities built into Windows XP, it's a lot easier for the average business user to connect to both wired and wireless networks. "One of the things we're most proud of is the real holistic approach that we've taken to the needs of the mobile business user," reports Sullivan. "The businessperson with a laptop on the road who wants to get some work done, to send some e-mail, update a presentation, or even do a videoconference with the kids doesn't have time to worry about enabling 802.11b and configuring wireless networking protocols. With one-touch networking, we made the process super simple."
With network savvy built-in to Windows XP, and the integrated wireless capabilities of laptops based on Intel(r) Centrino(tm) Mobile Technology, it's a breeze to take advantage of the infrastructure already in place at airports, hotels, coffee shops, and other locations. As Microsoft's Sullivan puts it, "You walk into the Red Carpet Club, open your laptop, and a little balloon pops up that's says, 'I see a wireless network here. Do you want to connect?' You click, and you're connected!" To take maximum advantage of these user-friendly features, make sure that you deploy hardware and software that have been tested and approved for use with Windows XP. Check out www.microsoft/windows/catalog for a list of "Designed for Windows XP" wireless network hardware and a lot of other useful information.
Intel Centrino mobile technology-based laptops are also designed to make it easier to quickly establish reliable 802.11b network connections - around the office, at home, or at WiFi "hotspots" on the road.
Laptops that incorporate Centrino technology are lighter and thinner in design. Increased portability and improved battery life also make it easier to be totally cable-free - whether you're working at the airport or in your own conference room. According to Craig Barrett, Intel's chief executive officer, "Unwiring the PC will change the way people use computers, allowing them to communicate, be productive, or be entertained wherever and whenever they want."
As part of the introduction of Centrino mobile technology, Intel has developed the Wireless Verification Program, which includes engineering and testing of hotspot locations and wireless service providers to further enhance the end user's wireless experience. Intel's worldwide efforts with T-Mobile, McDonald's, and other leading wireless network service providers, hotels, airports, and restaurant chains worldwide have already resulted in thousands of verified hotspots - with more than 10,000 expected by the end of the year.
For more information on Intel Centrino mobile technology, WLAN benefits for SMBs, and customer success stories, check out http://www.intel.com/smallbusiness/mobile/.
A report from the research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. states, "Wireless LAN technology is now a viable option for SMBs. Lower costs and solid performance make wireless LANs a networking answer in several SMB environments." In addition to increasing productivity on the road and at home, the kind of user-friendly wireless networking enabled through Windows XP and Centrino technology can ease the growing pains of a successful company. The flexibility and scalability of a wireless LAN makes it easier to add new employees to an existing network, rearrange workspaces, or even move an entire network to a new location - all without the hassles of wiring and rewiring.
Among the slickest of the new Centrino-based PCs, IBM ThinkPad T40 is only 1"-thin and delivers up to 7.2 hours of battery life, long enough for a transcontinental flight or even the longest of meetings. For versatility and power the new Acer TravelMate 800 series offers a 15" screen, IEEE 1394 and USB 2.0 ports, Bluetooth support, and Microsoft Windows XP Professional, in a 1" thin, 5.7-lb. package. Options include a hot-swappable internal DVD-R drive.
Other laptops based on Centrino mobile technology range from Toshiba's versatile Tecra M1 and the ultraportable 2.3-lb. Portégé R100, to Dell's economical, lightweight Latitude D600 which measures up at 4.7 lbs., 1.2" thin, and comes equipped with a 14.1" XGA or SXGA+ display. Other notable Centrino mobile technology-based laptops are Sony's sleek Vaio Z1A, and the full-featured, cost-effective Gateway 450X.
The Motion Computing Tablet PC is the first of what promises to be a large class of Centrino-based Tablet PCs. The unit features a 12.1" flat screen, weighs less than 3 lbs. and is less than 1" thin. Firewire (IEEE 1394) and USB connectivity, plus a wide range of options, make this Windows XP Tablet a versatile, powerful mobile computing tool.
The combination of Intel's Centrino mobile technology and the power of Microsoft Windows XP can provide active business people with a seamless, productive, and enjoyable mobile computing experience.
CeBIT America and Inc. magazine have designed a special forum on wireless technologies for executives of today's fastest growing companies. CeBIT will be held from June 18th to 20th at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.
The panel on Mobility for CEOs, sponsored by Intel and Microsoft, will be held on Thursday, June 19th, in the Keynote Room at 10:30 a.m. The panel will be moderated by Ed Sussman, Executive Editor of Inc., and will include three industry executives and three CEOs of SMB Growing Companies.
On the Expo floor, an Inc. magazine Pavilion on Mobility for CEOs, will also showcase today's new mobile technology from Microsoft and Intel. For free registration to attend the panel discussions and Expo floor, go to http://www.cebit-america.com/ and use Priority Code GWE3.
Written by John Rhodes, author of Videoconferencing for the Real World.email@example.com Editorial Director: Ed Weil. firstname.lastname@example.org