Now that Microsoft has released Windows 8 on all different platforms (Desktops/Notebooks, Tablets and Phones) it's time to see if Windows Phone 8 is ready to be used in an Enterprise environment.
First of all I have to say I like the similarity of the interfaces across all platforms on Windows 8. Also the integration of your Microsoft Account across the platforms gives you a feeling you're working on one interface across all devices. This is the mean reason I always claimed that Apple iOS is the most enterprise ready OS for mobile devices in a Enterprise environment. So does this mean Apple has a real competitor now? I don't think so at this moment. I have to say Windows Phone 8 could be a real competitor but their not yet.... at this moment, but why?
Because of the company's policy Microsoft doesn't release many API's of their OS. We also saw this in Windows Phone 7. For this reason many Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors can't develop and produce policy settings and features for their MDM solution. For example AirWatch. So, what policy set's are avaible for Windows Phone 8 in AirWatch?
- Exchange ActiveSync
Let's compare this with the posibilities on iOS with AirWatch.
- Wi-Fi settings
- Single App mode
- Exchange ActiveSync
- and more... (see picture below)
When we look deeper into the available policy's of Windows Phone 8 in the AirWatch console we can see a big difference in the possibilities and completeness of these policies. For example we want to require the device owner to set a passcode so that no one else can access the device. I think most companies will set this as a requirement. But what if the device owner forgets his passcode (we all know this happens often in a Enterprise). Unfortunately in AirWatch their is no way to remove the passcode on a Windows Phone 8 device. So you will have to "wipe" the device. (luckily) this option is available through the AirWatch console.
In a Enterprise we are continuously trying to protect are sensitive data. Now that employees not only access their data on a company Desktop/Notebook in their office or at home but also on a smart device which travels with them all over the planet we want some kind of protection when the device is lost or stolen. Windows Phone 8 (but also Windows 7 and 8) have a solution for this, Bitlocker! Be aware, Bitlocker is not enabled on default! you have to configure this on your Exchange server with a Exchange ActiveSync policy. Their is no way to enable or disable it on the device itself. Therefore on default you will see the device isn't encrypted on most MDM consoles.
For more information about Windows Phone 8 and Security see: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/business/security
Find my Phone (Self Service Webpage)
A nice feature of Windows Phone 8 (but not entirely new) is the Self Service Webpage or "find my Phone" option. The only thing you have to do is to log in with your Microsoft account and your Windows Phone is automatically added to your account. From this page you can track and trace your device, let it ring, lock it and even wipe it yourself. Unfortunately non of these options are available trough the AirWatch console.
Windows Phone 8 interface
As I mentioned before I like that the Windows 8 interface is the same on alle platforms (Desktop/Notebook, Tablet and Phone) unlike Google's Android interface look is on different on most devices (HTC, Samsung, etc) Windows has just one interface. This can be a great advantage of the Windows 8 adoption in Enterprises. Users will always have the same "look and feel" regardless on wich device their working on.
Office on Windows Phone 8
The ability to use the mobile device as a "fat" client to view or edit your Office documents is a real added value on Windows Phone 8. Because Office is a standard feature of Windows Phone 8 you can easily access your Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on your Windows Phone. The documents can be opened and saved from local storage or even from the cloud (SkyDrive or Email).
My conslusion is that Windows Phone 8 it not yet ready to be used in a Enterprise enviroment. Although Microsoft has set a step in the right direction they are not their yet. I believe Windows Phone 8 in combination with other Windows 8 devices is going to be a good challanger for Apple's iOS in the Enterprises. My tip for Microsoft would be to start sharing API's with the MDM vendors so they can start to develop policies and security settings for Windows 8 devices. Windows Phone 8 has a nice interface and a good feature with a full worthy Office client on board. But is incomplete with the management options of these devices by IT administrators. Therefor a great security risk and time spending job for Enterprises. The only way to manage your Windows devices properly it to buy the Microsoft solution "System Center Configuration Manager" (SCCM). you can find more about that here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/system-center/configuration-manager-2012.aspx.
Thank you for reading this blog. Do you have any questions or comments on this article. Please feel free to let me know trough the contact form.
Helpfull Windows Phone 8 links:
Windows Phone 8 How-to : http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/how-to/wp8
App's and Games: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store