There's good news and bad news for Windows Phone business users

There's good news and bad news for Windows Phone business users

Summary: VPN support may not be coming to Windows Phone 8 this year, as was rumored and hoped for by many business users. But Good Technology's secure messaging app is now on WP8.


As I mentioned on the Windows Weekly podcast on May 16, current and potential Windows Phone users who've been hoping Microsoft might add VPN support to Windows Phone 8 this year could be disappointed.

One of my sources, who has been pretty accurate so far about Windows Phone futures, said that neither the GDR2 nor GDR3 updates to the Windows Phone 8 operating system are going to introduce VPN support to the platform. (GDR2 is supposedly rolling out to existing Windows Phone users this summer; GDR3 is rumored for this fall.)

It's unclear if Microsoft will relent  and introduce VPN support with the follow-on to GDR3, which is known as Windows Phone Blue -- which is looking increasingly like an early 2014 deliverble. I hear there's still a chance it could be added at that point.

Microsoft officials said last year that the company had decided to rely on Secure SSL rather than support VPN with Windows Phone 8. One Windows Phone official told me Microsoft considered Secure SSL "a better, light-weight approach" to providing this kind of functionality in the new BYOD (bring your own device) world that is adopting Web servcies.

After Microsoft's introduction of Windows Phone 8, there were renewed rumors that Microsoft was planning to add VPN support to Windows Phone 8 at some point as part of what was known as "Apollo Plus." It turns out Apollo Plus was just a generic Microsoft name for the wave of updates to Windows Phone 8 and not a specific update.

The current plan, from what I'm hearing, is to focus this year on securing new Windows Phone 8 apps and devices. The GDR updates are meant to provide minor updates and tweaks to the Windows Phone 8 operating system. But my sources said the thinking by the powers-that-be in the Windows Phone team is that the base phone operating system is largely good enough for now, and apps and devices are what need the most attention.

The way to think about the three General Distribution Releases (GDRs) is that they are meant to provide bug fixes and specific updates requested by handset makers and mobile operators, I hear. GDR2 is about making some much-needed Xbox music app fixes, allowing Data Sense metering, and CalDAV and CardDAV support. GDR3 is the update that will help support larger screen devices.

Windows Phone Blue is where more major new features will be added. Will VPN be among them? No word so far.

Microsoft, unsurprisingly, isn't talking about GDR3 or Windows Phone Blue. It's shut-up-and-ship over there.


There is some good news for business users on the Windows Phone platform this week, however. Good Technology's enterprise messaging app is now available for Windows Phone 8.

There already was a version of Good's encrypted e-mail for Windows Phone 7.X. But the Windows Phone 8 version of Good's app didn't arrive until today, May 17, according to WPCentral. (The new Good app works on both Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 8.) The Good WP app provides secure access to email, calendar and contacts; remote lock and wipe; supports blocking copy-paste policy; and more.

Topics: Windows Phone, Collaboration, Microsoft, Security


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • "...the base phone operating system is largely good enough for now..."

    Argh! I wish that were true but there's still plenty of functional gaps with even the little things such as audio profile support (I have to switch my phone to silent when playing music through my headphones as the phone will still beep very loudly when I get texts and calls even if I'm playing music, it's a daily annoyance.) and being able to cycle through ring, silent, ring & vibrate, and vibrate without having to dig into the settings.

    There's also big issues like the lack of a full backup facility and the inability to actually restore the data you can backup without resetting your phone and doing it over 3G rather than WiFi...

    It is brilliant to be getting all these "big name" apps recently but I wish they'd plug some of the holes in the actual OS too... I mean, what exactly are the WP development team doing?

    Other than just waiting to be consumed by the Windows RT team, that is? #sogonnahappen
    • I wish

      your last sentence becomes truth, what winRT does have feature wise should be there in WP since the launch of wp8. I hope blue makes these both platforms one and gives wp's UI a major boost with more customization...
      • Smartphones are becoming more and more cheaper...

        ...and it means that margins will be lower and lower. There are tens of new Chinese producers conquering markets and putting producers like Nokia and Apple in corners.

        As CEO of Jolla company noticed this week: "China is showing the way of mobile industry" and west have to adapt to that new reality.

        There is no guarantee that 75% market share for Android is the upper limit. Actually the result might be the main battle between Android Linux vs. GnuLinux. Others might be wiped out from the ship.
        Napoleon XIV
        • What goes around comes around

          I guess. We have been setting the trends such that some in Asia would pay 2-3 months worth of salary (or a kidney) to get something cool (e.g. iPhone). Now the table has turned. They (China, India...) are telling us how cut-throat and competitive businesses could be.
      • Oh, I was the opposite...

        I was hoping RT and WP would merge in a different way -Wp tablets that get a type of mobile, touch-centric office for mini-tab screens.I suppose thats more of a WP on tablet than a merger with RT - but that's why we're all different!

        My mini is my favourite piece of tech. However I've already decided to leave android for MS later this summer with my phone... Mini tablet; I'm not so sure -basically waiting for a WP type tablet or the new atom chips..
        • That's a big disadvantage

          Microsoft really should merge Windows RT and Windows Phone. After all, the competition does this already. iOS runs on both Apple's tablet and phone, and while there are specialized tablet apps that don't go on the phone, most phone apps will work on the tablet. Android takes this a step further -- pretty much all apps work for tablet and for phone, just changing layouts based on the device's screen size and resolution.... just like Desktop Windows always has.

          This should also be coupled with fewer hardware restrictions. Microsoft is holding back both phone and tablet hardware by being so locked down on the resolutions and devices they'll support for any given version of Windows RT/Phone. The competition is moving faster... not the thing to help Microsoft gain market share.
          • Master Joe Says...Only One

            Competition is moving faster? Actually, Microsoft is right in the middle. Android is willing to let anyone run it on their device. What that created was a very fragmented, often short life span for devices (latest and greatest now could be at end of life in less than a year with Android phones and tablets). Apple, on the other hand, doesn't allow any competition to run iOS. It's iPhone/iPad or nothing. Microsoft may be a bit particular about the devices taht run WP8 and RT, but that's because bad hardware can ruin an OS just as much as a bad OS can, if not more so.

            Personally, I passed on WinRT in favor of the Surface Pro (which I happen to love quite a bit and continue to find ways to incorporate it into both my work and play schedules). I'm happy with my WP8 device. Is it perfect? No. I wish I didn't have my phone vibrating in my pocket, even though it's set to silent (this may be HTC's attentive phone app's fault, however). I also wish that accessibility was universal (I use white on black, which now lets me read my e-mail on my phone, while WP7 did not offer this, but IE and Office still don't conform to taht color scheme). Having the keyboard be black letters on white under this color scheme is also the reverse of what I'd prefer, and tehre are some menus (like turning cellular data on and off) that are still black on white as well. Is the OS "good enough"? I guess. But, Microsoft has a lot of ground to cover to be a true player in the mobiel market. There may be a lot of happy WP8 handset owners out there, but the OS isn't attracting new users like Android is and like iPhone has in the past. Marketing is a large part of that (Verizon has gone all in on Android since the start, and T-Mobile is to the wall on the iPhone in hopes that its presence will save the company). Where's the WP8 advertising? Once in awhile, you'll see some forgettable commercial for the OS, but it's hardly the media blitz that Apple and many Android makers (especially Motorola) have put out to promote their platforms and devices.

            The "cool" factor is working against Microsoft as well. People get iPhones or Android devices because that's what their friends have. Honestly, and back to my previous point, I really do enjoy the new iPhone vs. Android fanboy commercial WP8 has out. The question about whether discovering WP8 would stop the fighting is a painful one though because the problem is no one is aware of it. I don't have the answers, but Microsoft needs to find a way to get more facetime for WP8, and maybe WinRT as well. Maybe the two will merge. Having the single Windows store would be more appealing to developers. I guess time will tell. For now, I'm a WP8 and proud of it.

            --Master Joe
    • A critical opportunity missed by Microsoft

      a a Windows Phone fan I am very disappointed by this story. WP8 should be ideal solution for high security businesses but if this is true it shows Microsoft is content to continue to cede the business market to blackberry and iOS.

      Claiming SSL is lighter weight option in BYOD world suggests Microsoft are completely missing the point. There are still many users working for organisations where high security really matters which will never allow BYOD and which are still largely stuck with Blackberry 7 devices. Windows Phone could have had a massive advantage in this space if Microsoft had simply implemented similar security features of Windows Mobile 6.

      Windows phone would be better from security perspective an Blackberry as well as a massive relief for those stuck with Blackberry 7. Given the current range of devices WP8 would also be attractive or businesses wanting security and clue for money. It would have also introduced a massive range of people to the benefits of Windows Phone. However instead Microsoft seem happy to provide a space for Blackberry to build momentum on Blackberry 10.

      I can understand the initial decision to focus on consumer features but in my view the failure to reimplement the security features of Windows Mobile by this stage in WP development is strategically unforgivable and gives Blackberry a chance to steal back the third place in the smartphone market. Microsoft Board should be asking someone some very difficult questions.
      • Critical Opportunity Missed, Microsoft High Security, Huh ???

        Good Day Friend
        Where is the security in Microsoft's Skydrive ( Cloud ) ???, it is about as secure as a submarine with a screen door for a hatch !!! You are dangerously exposed on any sync via Skydrive from Windows H8 ( Hate ) phone to PC, and there is no cable or Bluetooth method to sync available anymore. Our company deals with highly confidential documents, and we cannot afford to risk this massive gaping hole in security !
    • ...good enough...

      ...maybe after adding support for BlueTooth 4, so I don't have to stare longingly at Android phone users with BlueTooth heart rate monitors at the gym. Well... unless they're pretty Android users, that is.
    • Agreed

      I like my Lumia 900 a lot. I don't want iOS or Android.
      But the lack of BASIC functions like volume profiles, or even individual volume controls for different functions, as well as other smaller things like individual vibrations for contacts, or the basic phone functionality (YOU CAN'T PASTE A PHONE NUMBER INTO THE DIALER!) are galling. And these aren't things that should be a problem at all to implement. I can't figure out why MS thinks these functions are "good enough" when they don't even live up to what dumb phones have done for years, and there is no way for 3rd party apps to access these functions due to security restrictions set by Microsoft.

      But they are probably right that from a sales perspective, it's more important to focus on apps and devices. It's only AFTER people get the phone these things would be an issue. ;)
  • What are they shipping?

    If it is "shut up and ship," what are they shipping that's meaningful? I cannot help but question what they've been doing if we're going to have to wait until 2014 for meaningful updates. I hope they're working hard to provide the ability for developers to write once and run on both Windows and Windows Phone. Otherwise, I think both are doomed--as is my career as a developer using MS technology. I fear it was a huge mistake for them to not provide write once capability with W8 and WP8 from the start.
    • Microsoft's plans are now in tatters

      Windows has turned into a train wreck. Here's why.

      Yes, Microsoft did want to have write-once-use-everywhere code. It needed to use the same codebase on desktop and mobile.

      But Windows on the desktop is written in old C++ that is tangled like a big hairball. It can't be unravelled. Windows couldn't be used on mobile, so Microsoft had to bring in a new platform… Windows RT.

      The plan was to force WinRT on desktop users, make it popular, and then slowly migrate both desktop and mobile to WinRT. But the plan blew up in Ballmer's face.

      Windows RT is selling so badly that it has no chance. The whole plan failed. Windows on the desktop will live on (though with slowly reducing sales), but Windows RT is a dead duck which will eventually be cancelled.

      Windows RT will join Microsoft's other mobile platforms… Kin, Sidekick, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7… Gee Wiz, how many MS mobile platforms have failed and been cancelled? No other company comes close to this!
      • You've clearly never seen the Windows source.

        I have. The Windows source today is cleaner than it's been since NT4. Sure, the way the source was modularized and layered was less than optimal in XP, but Vista disentangled some of the more egregious complexities, Win7 untangled it a lot more and Win8 improved the OS modularization and layering more still.

        Evidence? Windows Phone 8 runs the same kernel and core OS as desktop Windows with the Phone8 app platform on top.

        Microsoft is working to bring the Phone and Windows platforms closer together than they've ever been in near-future releases.
        • There is no need for Windows Phoney...

          ...and consumers have realized it for years. Microsoft&Nokia can't compete. Chinese are rolling the markets with decent but much more cheaper new smartphones. There is no need to buy a $300-400 smarphone like iHype and Lumia, those days have gone.
          Napoleon XIV
          • What Chinese companies are you refering to?

            Samsung is not Chinese.
        • Re: The Windows source today is cleaner than it's been since NT4

          Why is it so hard to work with, then? Consider how many years it took Microsoft to bring out its severely-crippled Windows ports for ARM. Compare Linux, which has been ported to an average of ONE NEW ARCHITECTURE PER YEAR during its entire existence!

          Even Android now manages to run on three different architectures, which is an average of a new one every couple of years--still way ahead of anything Microsoft has been able to achieve.
          • NT's very first release was multiplatform.

            It ran on several achitectures including x86 and powerpc, itanium and some others. Not sure why suddenly the windows ARM version would be severly crippled ? X86 applications do not magically run on ARM processors, regardless which OS you use to run it. Did you try Android on x86 ? If there was ever a reason to call something severly crippled you get the reason right there. And of course here too ARM compiled applications do not magically run in x86, how surprising.
          • Absolutely correct

            But the key word here is "was".

            If Microsoft had kept Windows NT the way they received it, they would have dominated the computing environment in all platforms (except perhaps mainframes and supercomputers). But they did not. Microsoft had no idea what to do with most of the NT functionality and they eventually stripped it down, while merging it with win32 for NT 4.0.
            Microsoft had a reason to do this: all of the software because of which people were buying Windows was not compatible with the NT's execution model and especially the stricter security restrictions.

            Nothing of this is related in any way to running one CPU architecture code on another CPU architecture -- that has always been done via emulators and the OS itself has much less to do with it. Except perhaps make the emulator's life easier by providing the "same" APIs and compatible runtime.

            Here is where we come to the problem with current "Windows". All of Windows Phone, Windows RT and Windows 8 have different APIs and runtimes, that are some times simply incompatible. If NT was not bastardized at the time, this wouldn't be the case.

            In any case, whatever we discuss here will not change anything, unless someone who has any say at Microsoft reads and provides feedback. Windows will be what Microsoft makes it and it's fate will be determined by whether whatever Microsoft have dreamed of, is what users want.
          • Microsoft is a commercial company

            Nothing more needs to be said. Itanium support has been removed since Windows server 2012 simply because it stopped being commercially viable, the same goes for powerpc and some other architectures which have been axed much earlier.