Business Case for Windows Phone 7 Outlined
Microsoft described its views on why its upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series operating system will meet the needs of businesses.
The approach was outlined in a Windows Phone blog post on Monday. Products using Microsoft's newest operating system for mobile devices are not yet available, but they could appear by year's end.
The company's last phone OS release, Microsoft Kin, was aimed at a younger crowd that might use the device to swap photos and chat with friends. However, for business users, Microsoft envisions Windows Phone 7 as integrating with other Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Office, Exchange and SharePoint. This integration of the Microsoft stack appears to be Microsoft's main argument for business adoption of Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft explained that it isn't trying to recreate the Windows desktop experience on the phone with the Windows Phone 7 OS. Instead, Microsoft plans to leverage something called the "Office hub," which will provide the familiar Office user interface. Users will have access to e-mail, contacts and calendars, as well as collaboration apps.
The blog promises that IT organizations will be able to tap into existing investments in Office, Exchange and SharePoint with Windows Phone 7. The OS will integrate with Exchange for e-mail, contacts and calendar. Collaboration is accomplished via SharePoint and the SharePoint Workspace client. Secure access to the corporate network can be enabled through Microsoft Forefront Universal Access Gateway.
Organizations will be able to use "Outlook Mobile and the Office hub" to tap into Microsoft's services, such its Business Productivity Online Suite or hosted Exchange and SharePoint, according to the blog.
Windows Phone 7 OS protects data through "application sandboxing," which prevents channels from being opened between applications, according to the blog. Applications get certified before being released through Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace. Secure transmission is enabled through 128- or 256-bit Secure Socket Layer encryption.
IT organizations can manage the password policies of Windows Phone 7 devices. The OS enables "managed EAS polices such as Require Password, Password Strength, Remote Wipe and Reset to Factory Settings with multiple failed unlock attempts," according to the blog.
Windows Phone 7 represents something of a break from Microsoft's earlier Windows Mobile tradition. A Microsoft official told APC in March that Windows Mobile 6.x-based phones "will not be upgradable" to the upcoming Windows Phone 7 OS. In addition, partners and developers are expected to have to rebuild their Windows Mobile 6.x apps for Windows Phone 7.
There also may be some pain points for organizations migrating to Windows Phone 7.
"We understand that migrating from Windows Mobile 6.1 or 6.5 to Windows Phone 7 will take effort," the blog explains, without being specific. "However, many customers we have spoken with thus far have told us that these are steps they are willing to take in order to achieve a new level of usability and productivity."
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.