We have already seen with the initial announcement of Windows Phone 8 that Microsoft is much more serious about building enterprise features into their next OS. Along with better security through full device encryption and secure-boot technologies Microsoft will allow business to deploy apps directly to the phone.
Currently the only way to manage a Windows Phone device is through the ActiveSync framework but this isn’t able to provide the level of granularity that micro-managing Systems Administrators need. Microsoft has now revealed that their In Tune product will provide the one stop shop for device management for Windows Phone 8 and also WinRT tablets. Hopefully this should mean much wider adoption of Windows Phone in the enterprise considering it will play nicely with existing Microsoft technologies.
The post does not go into much detail of what exactly will be manageable but does say that the cloud based solution will allow setting of mobile policies, distribute apps and view reports. We’d expect this to mean that the solution will sit somewhere in between full Active Directory management and the currently lightweight controls of ActiveSync.
Ever since Microsoft announced that WinRT tablets would not be able to join a domain there has been much fretting about the enterprise story for these new tablets. This should ease some concerns for system administrators who thought WinRT tablets would save them from having to deal with iPads and their associated security issues and lack of familiar, integrated management tools.
It’s unlikely that these tools will be restricted to Microsoft’s own smart devices, we’re sure that Android and iOS will also get support too. However, as Microsoft fully controls its own platform and services the level of integration could go deeper and provide a key selling point for Windows Phone.
Even the current version of Windows Phone has brilliant business credentials, an email client that is simply unbeatable when running against Exchange and of course Office built right in. Windows Phone 8 and these associated management tools should remove any last obstacles for business to start adopting it fully. It’s highly unlikely that Microsoft will leave out other Smart devices from this toolset, its whole purpose is to help with the problems encountered with the current trend of “bring your own device” in the workplace.