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Windows Phone has always had the foundation to excel in every market. For example, with Xbox on board it could be the killer mobile gaming device – once they work out a few kinks. Same could be said for business, every device has the best Office experience built-in, but it’s not exactly taking over the corporate world by storm yet.

It’s not that the platform doesn’t have the chops, it could just be a lack of communication about what it can do. So Microsoft has gone and set up the Windows Phone business hub (www.windowsphone.com/business) – a place where you can learn all about business features of the operating system.

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Microsoft's live-survey app code named 'BrushFire' is in early alpha stages of development

The notion of using live feedback and crowdsourcing during events isn't new--heck your teachers probably did when they asked you to "raise your hands" when voting on something as a kid. But this is 2012 and we need something with a little more bite to it. BrushFire is such an attempt.

Made by Microsoft (and technically for internal use only at the moment) the app is is still in the "alpha" stage meaning don't expect it to actually work. But the concept here is what's neat. From the app description:

"This is for internal MSIT use only. The application allows users to complete surveys by supplying a provided code. The application is alpha and only demonstrates the first activity type of survey. Future versions will include other types of activities. You can use the code MSIT to sample the application. "

How BrushFire works, in theory, is when a presenter at a conference wants to get feedback or interact with the audience in some e.g. a survey, they can fire one up and have it broadcast through this app to the audience. The audience can then take the survey on their phones and the info is calculated in real time. This type of feedback is often done with product testing and audience screenings of movies but now the technology can go anywhere and be configured nearly on the fly.

There's no word if the app and service will go forward, be cross-platform etc (though it'd make sense to be on iOS and Android if maximum audience participation is wanted) but the idea behind it seems extremely useful. It's always nice to take a peek behind Microsoft's curtain a bit.

Thanks, anon, for the info

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An official app for The Register has been released for Windows Phone this past week. The online publication is a reputable technology resource with millions of readers, and Windows Phone owners will be pleased to know that a seamless experience is now available while on the go.

Latest articles are pulled down with comments displayed for each article. Users can add their own opinion on the article, or share the article with integrated social networks. Favourite feeds can be configured in the settings, for a maximum of three subjects. This creates a more personalised experience with relevant stories being targeted for viewing with three panes dedicated to the chosen topics. All feeds can be viewed regardless of what's selected in the settings, thus it's not a limitation.

It's a basic and simple app, but the interface is great and fluid throughout. Unfortunately, there's no option to change font sizes and screen orientation is locked at portrait, but we expect future updates to be rolled out addressing said issues with new feature implementations.

You can download The Register from the Marketplace for free.

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We don't recall seeing this at the insanity that was Mobile World Congress, but evidently on February 27th, Good Technology, who focuses on enterprise and security (and who used to be owned by Motorola) announced a partnership with Nokia to bring their "FIPS-certified 192 bit AES encryption and end-to-end mobile messaging" service to Lumia Windows Phones.

The service is set to roll out in Q2 2012, which means we should see this very soon. The press release goes on to detail the features coming to the Windows Phone app, which by the sounds of it will be only available in the Nokia Collection through the Marketplace:

"Employees will be able to access corporate email, contacts, and calendars through the Good for Enterprise application on their Nokia Windows Phone smartphones—just as they access Microsoft Outlook® or Lotus Notes® on desktop computers at the office—using the intuitive user interface with panorama and pivot views with which they are already be familiar. IT managers will be able to protect corporate data with data encryption and easy-to-apply policies, such as requiring passwords and preventing 'cut/copy/paste' capabilities from the Good for Enterprise app. They will also be able to establish role-based policies using web-based management tools and perform remote wipe of enterprise information only, leaving music, photos, and other personal data present elsewhere on an employee's mobile device intact in the event the mobile device is compromised, lost or stolen."

A big gap in Windows Phone services is actually in enterprise, specifically the lack of encryption on the device or secure, non-Exchange based messaging. Unfortunately, while many in IT departments want more advanced features on current Windows Phones, there seems to be no plans for an "enterprise update" for Windows Phone 7. Instead, Microsoft is putting off a major refocusing on this area till Windows Phone 8, expected in late 2012 (rollout early 2013) including 128-bit native BitLocker data encryption.

While Windows Phone 8 looks promising, this partnership with Nokia for the Lumia 710, 800 and 900 devices will offer a nice stop-gap for mid 2012 and another reason to "go Nokia". Combined with AT&T's recent secure-messaging software for Windows Phones, Lumia 900 owners will have no less than three enterprise-focused messaging solutions: AT&T's, Good Technology and of course Exchange. We think that's a pretty killer combo for IT departments.

Read the full press release after the break...Thanks, bilzkh, for the tip!

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Although Windows Phone 7 is "consumer focused" with only light enterprise support (for now, future updates look to address this weakness), Microsoft is still interested in courting those in the non-consumer environment. In addition to their general WP7 for Business Page, Microsoft has just posted several specific articles to help IT Professionals integrate Windows Phone 7 in a business environment. The guides, which can be downloaded in PDF form, include Internet Explorer, Exchange integration, and security management.

A complete overview and list can be found here

Source: Microsoft; via: WindowsPhoneSecrets

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Although Windows Phone 7's first generation is clearly aimed at consumers with a few bones thrown at enterprise (though lets not knock Mobile Office and Skydrive), it does have some holes in it that may cause some companies to hesitate to deploy upon launch e.g. no side-loading of custom enterprise software.

One of those holes looks to be filled, at least by a 3rd party company called Odyssey Software who make the Athena remote device management program for large corporations. Odyssey supports iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and now Windows Phone 7, bringing a bit more control for those companies who can integrate the tech into their servers. Such features are as follows:

  • Live, remote control of devices in the field
  • Device software, application and patch provisioning and installation
  • Comprehensive software and hardware asset information
  • Location based data via GPS (current and bread crumb)
  • Detailed phone and messaging information and stats
  • Security to protect sensitive data (device lock & wipe)

While we're no IT people and know little about this end of the technology spectrum, that sure sounds like some powerful software over corporate deployed phones. It'll be even better if and when Windows Phone 7 starts to support this stuff directly, but until then at least there is this solution.

Source: TMCnet (press release)

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It's no secret that Windows Mobile is big among IT types. In business, you can't beat Microsoft Exchange for e-mail and the like. But with more servers comes more responsibility, and that means management. Now I love spending time in the server room as much as the next nerd, but there are times when that's just not practical.

Enter Rove Mobile Admin 5.0. Full server management on your Windows phone, including:

Manage Microsoft Windows, Active Directory, Exchange, Exchange 2007, IIS, SQL Server, DHCP, DNS, Cluster Server, System Center Operation Manager, and System Center Mobile Device Manager, RSA, Lotus Domino, Novell, Oracle, BlackBerry Enterprise Server, BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5, Citrix, HP iLO, Backup Exec and VMware Virtual Infrastructure servers, Nagios, BMC Remedy Service Desk, BMC Performance Manager Portal, Microsoft Hyper-V and create SSH/Telnet and RDP/VNC connections from your wireless handheld device or any computer.

Check out the full data sheet. (pdf link)

And so, we're giving away five (5) copies of Rove Mobile Admin 5.0. And all you have to do is head into the forums and leave us your best (or worst) IT tale in the comments below. Bonus points for pictures of melted or otherwise destroyed hardware, infestations (insect or user, your choice), or whatever else you have to deal with every day. Not an IT type? This one's not for you. Just sit back and enjoy the show. Contest ends Dec. 7.

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