Ever since Apple released iPhone Exchange ActiveSync in 2008, the company’s mobile devices have become more business friendly with each release. And while Microsoft hasn’t exactly blazed new trails with Windows Phone’s business capabilities, Windows Phone 8 may soon change that.
Industry sources now say that Windows Phone 8, which isn’t available yet, will offer features that cater to the business community. If the reports are accurate, the next Blackberry your company issues you might not be a RIM device at all. It might be a Windows Phone.
Advanced encryption functionality is one thing keeping Windows Phone 7 out of the hands of many professionals.
The finance and healthcare verticals, in particular, deal with large amounts of sensitive data that require sophisticated encryption for privacy and security reasons. Although iOS has come a long way in this respect, it looks like Windows Phone 8 will be nipping at its heals.
Microsoft’s new phones should offer the level of encryption these industries require – a clear sign that the company is looking to capture market share in the business sphere. Specifically, Windows Phone 8 will add native BitLocker encryption, which is the same robust encryption found on the latest Windows desktop releases.
From Zune to cloud
After announcing the demise of all Zune hardware last October, it should come as no surprise that Microsoft will phase out its Zune app as a syncing tool.
Like its competitors in the mobile space, the company will introduce a cloud ecosystem (think iCloud, but Windows-ish). This move should satisfy both business and consumer users who are already moving more data to the cloud.
One of developers’ biggest gripes about Windows Phone is the lack of enterprise integration between its own mobile infrastructure and desktop computers running MS Windows – a problem that makes the platform exceedingly cumbersome for app creation.
With Windows 8, developers will get to recreate an identical user experience between the desktop version of Windows 8 and the Windows Phone environment. This change will make using Windows 8 for business a much more intuitive and streamlined process.
For developers, it also means gaining the ability to recycle code when creating apps for Windows 8’s desktop and mobile platforms. iOS developers already work this way, but it wasn’t something Windows Phone developers could enjoy until now.
Windows Phone 8 will also feature more streamlined management of Microsoft’s Exchange and System Center.
A likely boon for business users, this functionality should make it easier to automatically configure devices, use advanced encryption features, and perform a number of tasks associated with Exchange.
DataSmart features for business?
OK, this one isn’t a sure thing. But some industry sources speculate that a new Windows Phone 8 feature called DataSmart will be available at both the consumer and enterprise levels.
DataSmart lets you actively track and manage data usage to avoid sticker shock when your bill arrives. For businesses, this could be an opportunity to cut expenses by controlling data use on company-owned mobile devices.
While it remains to be seen whether features like these will help Windows Phone 8 break into the business sphere, the mobile brain trust at Microsoft is definitely making a go at it.
Adam Green is a freelance copywriter who champions enterprise fraud management. If the new Windows Phone is as cool as the critics say it is, he may just become the first person to snatch one up.