Microsoft has closed a deal with Ericsson, a major player in the wireless universe and co-founder of Bluetooth, the wireless standard. The deal puts Microsoft’s newly announced Mobile Explorer, the palmtop version of Internet Explorer (IE), on Ericsson phones and smart phones. The goal, according to Microsoft, is to “create a seamless, complete solution for next-generation wireless communications.” The deal also puts Microsoft Exchange Server on the back end for wireless users. Microsoft and Ericsson are working on new solutions “that seamlessly connect enterprise email with public wireless email services, based on Exchange Server and Ericsson wireless infrastructure products,” according to Microsoft. This deal is deeper than it might first appear. Some industry observers note the deal’s negative effect on wireless standardization. The wireless industry was working for universal acceptance of Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and Wireless Markup Language. WML is a special language, designed to create Web pages for viewing with minibrowsers (browsers modified for small display screens, often as text-only displays). Phil Holden, Microsoft’s group product manager for Windows CE, said, “A major part of the Ericsson-Microsoft deal is to evolve WAP more in the direction of Extensible Markup Language.” XML is the language that Microsoft is pushing most strongly as an interoperability standard. Some industry insiders speculate that the Microsoft-Ericsson deal ties in tightly to Microsoft’s recent decision to join the Bluetooth SIG (see Microsoft Joins Bluetooth). This SIG is one of two major groups attempting to establish a wireless standard so that all kinds of mobile devices can intercommunicate (the other wireless standards group is Wireless LAN). Microsoft had seemed wary of Bluetooth SIG’s requirement that all Bluetooth standard work be open. One wireless industry insider speculated that the Ericsson deal might be the payoff to Microsoft to convince the company to join the Bluetooth SIG. Ericsson is one of the Bluetooth SIG’s co-founders and possibly its most influential player.