Windows Phone comes to the enterprise

Windows Phone comes to the enterprise

Summary: Microsoft has finally put some effort into enterprise management and security features for Windows Phone and the result looks good for customers.


For me the most perplexing thing about the design of Windows Phone has always been the lack of any real effort put into security and management for the enterprise, when these capabilities are such a strength of the Windows desktop platform. I thought they really had a chance to make a differentiating product that would appeal to IT.

But instead they were completely focused on the consumer and what efforts they made (e.g. Intune) look like they aren't meant to be taken seriously. Even the initial announcement of Windows Phone 8.1 at Build today was focused purely on consumerish features.

WP8.1 seems to signal a change. I stole the title of this story from a blog by MobileIron's Tomas Vetrovsky on this subject (a blog which seems to have preceded any public announcement of these features by Microsoft). "... Vetrovsky leads MobileIron's strategy for the Windows platform, including smartphones, tablets and laptops."

Vetrovsky and I think alike. Windows Phone is a good product but, as he writes "[s]ome customers decided to wait to deploy Windows Phone as the enterprise-oriented features were fairly basic compared with other operating systems." No kidding. But with 8.1 Microsoft woke up and started to deliver. Vetrovsky says that most of their customers' feedback about Windows Phone is addressed in the new version.

So what does 8.1 add? "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."

Version 8.1 also adds true black and whitelisting of apps. If a blacklisted app is installed, it will be grayed out. If it's not installed, the user won't be able to install it. Microsoft tracks all this using the app's unique GUID from the store.
No, you can't install it [image courtesy MobileIron]
You installed it but no, you can't run it [image courtesy MobileIron]

Vetrovsky points out that with iOS and Android, application inventory must be set before phone deployment. Windows Phone 8.1 allows it to be done live to deployed phones.

Now that Microsoft has finally caved in and admitted their mistake by bringing the Start Menu back to Windows on the desktop, perhaps they will fix the other mistakes they have made. Windows Phone could be a great enterprise phone if Microsoft handles it right.

Topics: Security, Mobile OS, Mobility, Windows Phone

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  • @Larry

    What else needs to be fixed?

    “Now that Microsoft has finally caved in and admitted their mistakes by bringing the Start Menu back to Windows on the desktop, perhaps they will fix the other mistakes they have made. Windows Phone could be a great enterprise phone if Microsoft handles it right. “
    • I saw that typo, too

      using the plural of "mistake", when the singular was all that was needed.
  • Windows Phone Comes to the Enterprise

    More and more Microsoft Windows Phone deployments will be coming soon. 30,000 at one bank alone. Plenty of growth and opportunity for Microsoft Windows Phone with this update, the competition should be scared because of how will Microsoft Windows Phone will fit in with the rest of their environment.

    "Now that Microsoft has finally caved in and admitted their mistakes by bringing the Start Menu back to Windows on the desktop"
    It wasn't a mistake, its just that users and especially the tech bloggers were too stubborn to change and didn't know how to properly click a button to bring up the start screen. Microsoft actually had to bring Microsoft Windows down a notch for them.
    • You're on a roll

      Although I do think that you should have managed to mention microsoft at least two more times in your post. Keep writng new jokes to amuse us!
    • @LD, What bank was this?

      “30,000 at one bank alone.”

      I know was a typo......
      • Here is a link
  • Don't see it happening

    At least not with smartphones. Out of 10k managed mobile devices (iOS, BlackBerry, Android) we have 4 Windows Phones. 3 of them are owned by developers for testing. There's just no demand state side for this OS. Perhaps if they changed the UI as it turns off a lot of people and limits the functionality.

    Better management is nice but the days of "Look you can disable the camera" are long past. Microsoft needs to provide enterprise App stores, content and App delivery and do it without SCCM and other bloated solutions that are not how most large companies manage mobile devices and services.

    Working with leading MDM is a good step in the right direction, we'll see how much API they open to to allow management of their devices.
    • That's likely why these are "Enterprise" enhancements

      based around the thought that Enterprise is buying the phones, so Windows phone is now a good choice.

      Many people pass up a Windows phone not so much on the UI, I'll say, as opposed to not being able to get all the games and fun apps that you can with the iPhone.

      For enterprise, game apps are not a priority, or consideration
  • Catching up and moving ahead

    I like my Nokia Lumia 920 with Windows Phone 8 and yes, I use it in an Enterprise environment with over 20,000 employees working for my employer.