Tool Optimizes New Windows Mobile

Microsoft releases Mobile Device Manager 2008 with improved support for Windows Mobile devices and third-party tools.

The recent release of Microsoft's System Center Mobile Device Manager (MDM) 2008 is intended to simplify enterprise management and security of Windows Mobile-based PDAs and smartphones. Microsoft aims to allow mobile devices to function on Active Directory domains on par with other PCs and network components.

Released in late April along with Windows Mobile 6.1, MDM is a platform for managing software on mobile devices. It uses the Active Directory/Group Policy enterprise directory, for example, to allow administrators to set and control policies on mobile devices. It also comes with inventory and reporting features, and a VPN optimized for the mobile environment.

Promising Product
"It will make Windows Mobile devices first class-citizens," said Scott Rockford, Microsoft's group product manager for Windows Mobile, late last year when the software was released to beta. Microsoft also touted MDM's ability to allow developers to build apps for Windows Mobile using the same infrastructure as other devices, while supporting an ecosystem of third-party tools.

For example, Odyssey Software Inc. has released a plug-in, called Athena, that "fills some gaps" in MDM, including over-the-air remote control, interactive support tools, automated job scheduling and enhanced device-asset information gathering.

"Let's say you knew that there was a problem with your line-of-business mobile application that was frequently reported to the help desk, and the help desk and IT came up with a fix," says Odyssey CEO Mark Gentile. "You could use Visual Studio .NET, VBScript or any of the Microsoft programming languages or scripting environments to script that fix. You'd add a Web reference, point it to the WSDL and programmatically orchestrate our management agent that's on the device."

Going Mobile
Adding MDM to the Windows Mobile stack was a smart move, says IDC analyst Stephen Drake, because the market for mobile line-of-business apps is likely to reach stunning proportions in the near future. IDC researchers predict that nearly 75 percent of the U.S. workforce will be classified as "mobile" by 2011, adding to a total of about a billion such workers worldwide.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at

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