Windows Phone Finally Becomes Enterprise-Ready


Windows Phone 8

At today’s Windows Phone Summit, Microsoft gave a sneak peek at the next version of their phone operating system, Windows Phone 8 (WP8). Microsoft officials made it clear that this event was a platform preview more than a rundown of all new features (especially consumer-facing features) of WP8. The biggest reveal of the event was that the WP8 OS shares the core with its big brother, Windows 8. In this way, a lot of the lower level features and capabilities of Windows 8 are automatically translated over to WP8.

What I was most interested in seeing was how WP8 would improve its enterprise feature set. I have written before how some basic features required by corporate IT are missing from Windows Phone 7.5. I am happy to report that most of the issues I had, are going to be addressed in WP8. Here’s a high-level list of business-related features being added to Windows Phone:

  • Device encryption: Perhaps the single-most important feature required by IT is that the device data is encrypted. Windows Phone 7.5 has isolated storage and sandboxed apps but it is not the same or as secure as full device encryption. WP8 adds Bitlocker encryption to secure the entire device, including operating system and data files. Not only that, this will extend to removable microSD cards as well.
  • Secure boot: WP8 will support UEFI-based secure boot and add better app sandboxing, thereby protecting the device from increasing mobile malware threats.
  • Remote administration: Corporate IT will now be able to manage Windows Phones (including apps) just like they manage Windows PCs. Again, this could happen easily because of the shared core between WP8 and Windows 8.
  • Company hub: Windows Phone 7.5 offers no way to side load apps, and all apps have to go through the Marketplace to be deployed on devices. With WP8, Microsoft makes it possible for IT to be able to deploy apps via a Company Hub. The Company Hub can of course be used to disseminate other info, since it acts like just another app on the phone. Microsoft will provide templates and development guidance so IT departments can build such a hub for their employees.


WP8 Company Hub

Company Hub in Windows Phone 8

There are probably more features that relate to business use of Windows Phones which were not discussed today, like VPN support. However, the features discussed are big enough to give corporate IT and idea of how compliant WP8 will be with their stringent requirements.

Do you think these are good enough for your company’s IT department to start planning full support for Windows Phones? Let me know!

HP Looking To Launch A Windows 8 Tablet For Businesses By The Holidays

On Wednesday during an earnings call, HP CEO Meg Whitman stated that we can expect HP Windows 8 x86 PCs by this holiday season. According to reports, Whitman stated at a small gathering of “entrepreneurs and executives” that HP plans to release a tablet device targeted towards business and enterprise users by the end of the year. Presumably, it will not be an ARM device, but rather a full-featured x86 device.

“It is not really a tablet market, it is an iPad market” exclaimed Whitman. Whether she was referring specifically to the enterprise sector, or to the general consumer sector, she would be right in either case. Surely, HP intends to try to steal away some of that marketshare with x86 Windows 8 tablets for the enterprise, and ARM tablets for average consumers.

She also claimed that iPads and iPhones are currently insecure.

“There is a big trend to BYOD to work; which is all well and good until there is a security breach,” she said, referring to people increasing bringing their own devices such as iPhones or iPads to use on the job.

“We are going to provide an alternative.”

What’s interesting is that she broadly specified “devices”, and mentioned the iPhone in her example. I don’t want to read too far into this quote, but is she hinting at HP possibly making phones — Windows Phones — sometime down the road as well? Perhaps after the webOS flop, they didn’t want to back out of the game entirely. Seeing that Windows Phone does have traction, potential, and enthusiasm, it’s likely that they’re contemplating using it as their next mobile OS platform to complement their Windows 8 tablets.

Linux Foundation Predicts a Rocking Year for Linux in the Enterprise Sector

Linux has tried gaining a respectable position (by market-share) in the desktop world, and has failed for years. Apparently, not many people want to use Linux until they have something specific to do with Linux. Linux is not the first choice for many and this second-class status is going to stay as long as OEMs keep choosing Windows to be shipped with their laptops and desktops.


However, nothing beats Linux when it comes to the enterprise sector. The enterprise sector is the playground of Linux, and its adoption has been on a constant rise in this sector. Recently, the Linux Foundation revealed some trends, gathered from a survey conducted among enterprise users. There has been a rapid growth for data handled by the enterprise sector, and Linux is their first choice for handling big data requirements.

In the survey, over 80% of the enterprise users have expected an increase in the number of Linux-based over the next five years. However, a welcome change is the survey on perceived technical-barriers in these deployments, which has dropped to 12.2% from 20.3% last year. As always, more than 2/3rd of the participants considered Linux safer than other operating systems. The top three reasons for adopting Linux were:

  • Lower cost
  • More features
  • Security
  • In-house talent pool
  • No vendor lock-in
  • Openness

The 428 participants in the survey were employees of companies with $500 million in sales, or an employee-strength of over 500. It would be wonderful if this survey result translates into market-penetration.

You can get a copy of the survey result, at Linux Foundation.

Create your Startup in 54 Hours

The Startup Weekend presents an opportunity for all you procrastinating  entrepreneurs.

Imagine being able to start up the enterprise, which you have dreamed about for the last 10 years, in 54 hours. That is what “Startup Weekend” is all about. Anyone can participate.  This incubator  is  run by an energetic group spread across the world. It targets the clutch of developers, designers, and anyone who has a great idea.

This non-profit organization was founded by Andrew Hyde, and came into being in 2007. It brings a  whole  new meaning to a “weekend getaway”.  It shows you how a lot can happen in 54 hours. Teams have been known to work through the night just to get their idea ready for the final show down.

The weekend starts with a conference that allows the participants to show case their ideas. After the attendees vote for their  favorite  ideas, at the end of the night,  the top 24 groups present their demo model to an elite panel. The winning idea is always practical, well thought of, and presents a wonderful  opportunity  in business. The teams that win are awarded  incentives  to help them along their journey to becoming big successes. It is important to be able to think out-of-the-box and differentiate your ideas from the hundred’s that might be judged along with yours.

The biggest USP is not the prize at the end of the event, but the wonderful  opportunity  that the participants get to build new networks and pick up new skills. Its an opportunity for the participants to ”  ignite more entrepreneurial activity and map and connect the world’s startup ecosystems.”

Here are the 5 steps to the finals in the  Startup  Weekend.

Step 1:

Have a great (and practical) idea. Remember that you have just 54 hours to make it work.

Step 2:

Get a team.

Step 3:

Prepare an impactful 5-minute presentation. The attendees will decide if you go through for judging to the elite panel.

Step 4:

Prepare your demo model.

Step 5:

Blow the  competition  away.

The Startup Weekend website hit the nail on the head again when they quoted,

It’s rarely the idea that is the winner, but the people and the execution behind it.

It has been well attended in several cities all over the world. In fact, the next Startup Weekend may be coming to a city close to you.  It has been organized in 35 countries for over 25,000 entrepreneurs-in-waiting.

Google Brings Enterprise Control To Android

With Android being one of the leading smartphone operating systems and very rapidly climbing the charts in deployment, it’s well received news that Google is aligning their mobile offerings to include enterprise-level controls to compete in the business market.Google has updated their Device Policyapplication to include the ability for users to control their Android devices by way of tracking it via GPS, activating the ringer or resetting the PIN or password on the device. In the event that an employee or regular Apps user loses their device, they can use the online remote functionality to retrieve or secure their phone. Administrators and users can set up multiple devices in a new page that provides detailed information about each synchronized device (a tablet or smartphone) and plots the last known location. Devices must be running Android 2.2 or higher in order to use this feature.

Continuing along with the ability to remotely secure a device, Google Apps administrators now also have the option to force encryption for data stored on the device (supporting Android 3.0/Honeycomb tablets with encrypted storage). This will greatly reduce some of the risks that organizations take when employees wish to bring personal devices to work, it will allow security provisioning for any data exfiltration to ensure it is stored properly. Presumably, this can be done on a device-by-device basis allowing administrators to specifically select which devices have this set.

The last minor, yet very welcomed addition is Google Apps Lookup, which provides a much easier way for users to search their corporate address book for a contact. Similar to Microsoft’s Exchange Global Address List (GAL), mobile users can enter the name of a contact (by speech or text input) and the app will automatically search the online Apps directory for the contact and provide all the available information for the user to interact with as a regular contact in their device address book. This feature is available to Android devices running 2.1 or higher and must be enabled by the Apps administrator.

With personal devices making their way into the corporate environment, many organizations are feeling the weight of providing support for numerous devices yet retaining control and security over sensitive information. Google is taking steps in the right direction to take Blackberry head-on with some competition in the enterprise market.

Via Google Enterprise Blog