Microsoft officials have said next-to-nothing about how Windows Phone 7 will meet business users' needs -- beyond promising a new Office Hub will be built into the platform.
At the TechEd conference on June 7, however, officials got more granular about some of the other functionality that the company believes will prove that Microsoft hasn't abandoned its core enterprise base with the new phones that were designed to be consumer-centric.
Office Hub will be the business center for all Windows Phone 7 customers' office documents. OneNote, Excel, Word and PowerPoint are all there. Every Windows Phone 7 user will get this Office suite, as it will be built into the phones.
Here are some of the other Windows Phone 7 features Microsoft is promoting as of interest to business users:
Integration of the forthcoming Office Hub with Exchange Server and SharePoint Server 2010. When Windows Phone 7 devices ship this holiday season, they'll be able to sync with Exchange Server 2007, Exchange Server 2010 and the current version of Exchange Online (that is based on Exchange 2007). After that (no dates yet), Microsoft will enable syncing of the phones with 2010-enabled versions of Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. (Microsoft showed offline syncing of the SharePoint client that is on the phones during the morning keynote today). The secure connection is provided by Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG).
Microsoft is planning to add secure connectivity for other BPOS apps, including Communications Online, at some point. No dates for that yet. On the CRM front, Microsoft is going to allow developers who've created front-end client apps that connect to Dynamics CRM on the back end to offer their wares via the Marketplace. But Microsoft itself isn't going to be providing a Windows Phone 7 version of its CRM product.
There will be no IPSEC virtual private networking available for Windows Phone 7 devices. (This was available for Windows Mobile 6.x phones). Microsoft is providing, however, passwords, PINs, remote wipe, factory resettable settings and other security measures on top of the UAG connectivity, giving users an extra layer of secure connectivity, officials said.
Windows Phone Marketplace remains the one and only place where certified Windows Phone 7 apps will be available. But Microsoft will be providing a secure subsection of the Marketplace to developers who want to make beta versions of their apps available to a select group of testers. Microsoft is still evaluating when/if/how it will allow enterprises to distribute versions of their business applications to their own employees only; nothing new to say at this point.
Microsoft isn't changing its stance on requiring Windows Phone 7 applications to be written in managed code. If there are business applications that developers are having problems getting to work without native raw-socket access, Microsoft will work with those companies to try to find a workaround, officials said.
At TechEd, Microsoft also released a set of new Windows Phone Marketplace policies today. These include
Annual registration fee of $99
No limit to the number of paid apps submitted
5 free apps per registration, $19.99 each
Free registration to DreamSpark students
A new optional push notification service for third-party developers
A new optional Trial API, for developers who want to create try-then-buy apps
The ability to publish to all available Marketplace markets though a new “worldwide distribution” option
Support for free, paid, freemium (free with a paid upgrade path) and ad-funded models