Microsoft has waded into the push email market with a new solution that could spell even more problems for embattled RIM and its Blackberry handheld.

With backing from a number of mobile phone operators including Cingular in America and Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone in the UK, the company's Direct Push technology in Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2) means businesses can mobilise their employees current systems without the need to pay for additional and costly e-mail servers.

Cingular Wireless, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone have all announced free upgrades to the Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) for all their Windows Mobile 5.0 customers, enabling Direct Push functionality and providing enhanced device management and security for messaging applications.

Palm Inc. and i-Mate has also reaffirmed their commitment to free MSFP upgrades.

According to Microsoft, Direct Push technology added to Windows Mobile 5.0 gives customers faster access to all of their Microsoft Office Outlook information. Just like prior versions of Windows Mobile, it communicates directly with Microsoft Exchange Server and Windows Small Business Server without the need for additional and costly e-mail servers and middleware.