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Windows Phone 8.1: The Next Frontier for Enterprise Mobility

Tomas Vetrovsky
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Tomas Vetrovsky | April 02, 2014
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Market Trends

Windows Phone 8.1

Today, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8.1. It has been an interesting journey to this point and I speak for MobileIron when I say this is an exciting day for enterprise mobility.

Before I discuss the implications of Windows Phone 8.1 on the enterprise, I wanted to share a bit of my personal history with mobile at Microsoft.

Microsoft’s Mobility Journey

I have worked with Microsoft mobile devices since their inception. In 1998, I was invited to join the “Rapier” beta, running on HP Jornada. In 2002, I worked closely with Toshiba on their upgrades from Pocket PC 2002 to Pocket PC 2003. I joined the beta from Pocket PC Phone Edition that same year; it was the first device that combined PDA and a cell phone. About 6 months later, Microsoft established a separate group that worked on smartphones using the same core operating system but without a touch screen…

We have come a long way since then. There were three major “rewrites,” more than eight minor updates and numerous articles about how Microsoft “doesn’t get” mobile. However, with the release of Windows Phone 8, the reviews started to turn tide. It was a great consumer device but many of the busness-critical apps organizations expected were not available. Thus the start was slow and the devices faced a strong head wind in the enterprise.

During the last 18 months things got better. Most of the in-demand applications found their way to the Microsoft app store, the Nokia brand resonated well with European customers, and we have started to see genuine interest in Windows Phone from our business customers.

Some customers decided to wait to deploy Windows Phone as the enterprise-oriented features were fairly basic compared with other operating systems. Others worked with us to add Windows Phone 8.0 to their standard list of approved devices as they saw employee demand increase.  Another set of customers partnered with us as we brought unique functionality to Windows Phone management, such as PIN based registration or certificate distribution, to enable those customers to select Windows Phone as their primary mobile platform.

Along the way we collected feedback. Many enterprise customers were clamoring to add Windows Phone to their deployments, and they shared valuable insights that we aggregated and provided to Microsoft.

When we saw the first preview of Windows Phone 8.1, we were pleasantly surprised.  Most of our customers’ feedback was included in one form or other.

Windows Phone Comes to the Enterprise

Windows Phone 8.1 will allow a greatly expanded range of features to support enterprise security and management requirements. When used with an EMM solution such as MobileIron, Windows Phone 8.1 delivers full certificate management, VPN and WiFi provisioning, and more than 20 device controls allowing devices to be operated in highly secure environments with disabled cameras, Bluetooth and WiFi, for example.

Microsoft went beyond device management; Windows Phone 8.1 allows true white- and black-listing of applications. Apps can be uniquely identified based on their Microsoft Store GUID and the system will prevent their installation (or “gray them out” if they are already installed,) while preventing them from being launched.

In comparison with iOS and Android, where application inventory must be done before deployment, this is an innovative way to accomplish compliance with corporate mandates.

 

Angry Birds is blacklisted
Angry Birds is blacklisted

Trying to launch the application
Trying to launch the application.

Moving Forward

Microsoft has come a long way from 1998 when I received my first Microsoft powered PDA. But so have the other mobile operating systems. This is why enterprises turn to MobileIron for multi-OS, vendor-independent solutions that build on the strengths of each OS.

With Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft has truly strengthened their position as a trusted and viable mobile OS vendor in the enterprise. We are proud to announce support for Windows Phone 8.1.

 

Tomas Vetrovsky leads MobileIron’s strategy for the Windows platform, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.