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.
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!