Unlike the much anticipated large media Apple events or at an industry conference Microsoft finally released more details on their next updates to the Windows Phone platform this fall.
Mobile Platform Competition
Since the huge Nokia announcement some analysts believe Microsoft could still catch up and perhaps even overtake (with Nokia’s established global ecosystem) the current top mobile platforms, Google Android and Apple iOS.
With the current still crowded mobile platform world, it will certainly be important to stay in the top 3-4 to keep the application developers focused and continue to provide the all-important mobile device applications which I believe really has driven the current mobility wave in the last 3-5 years.
For the enterprise gaps that still linger, I did not see any new news on the missing device encryption features or 3rd parties that are willing to step in to fill the gaps yet. The legacy Windows Mobile 6.5 platform appears still to be the enterprise security focused mobile OS from Microsoft, with full EAS support, FIPS compliant, and encryption. We shall see what Windows 8 brings to the table next year in 2012..
I have seen leaked reports about the Microsoft MarketPlace that will cease to accept new legacy Windows Mobile 6.x applications. I’m not too surprised as Microsoft will probably want the consumer application developers to focus more on the newer Windows Phone platform. The enterprise customers that have already invested and using Windows Mobile 6.5 (for example in more expensive ruggedized devices) are probably not really using the MarketPlace application store to being with.
The official support timeline of the Windows Mobile 6.x platform is posted on the Microsoft Product Lifecycle web page and both have mainstream support ending on January 8th, 2013:
Windows Mobile 6
Windows Mobile 6.5
But back to the Windows Phone news and new features in the codenamed “Mango” release. :-)
A good recap of the changes announced is posted here on the Windows Phone team blog.
Although somewhat small in nature separately, all together bring some really nice and interesting features to the platform. As usual some are playing catch-up to existing features on other platforms, and others are not so directly comparable.
Perhaps even more interesting is the updated SDK for the developers, who’s applications really push the platform to be used and add more features. This release I think really pushes it up a notch so it will be interesting to see the reactions from that side.
The Windows Phone Developers Blog have a good recap of the SDK, that is currently available as a beta release, here.
New Enterprise Features
Some of these “new” features where already available on the legacy Windows Mobile platform and some even going a step further which is nice to see:
- IE 9/ HTML 5, if you have web enabled apps that can take advantage of the new tags
- Conversation/thread view in Outlook Mobile
- Pin-able individual Outlook folders in the Start screen
- Server search (finally!)
- Exchange ActiveSync policy support for Complex (alpha-numeric) passwords
- Information Rights Management (IRM) support for both e-mail and documents in Outlook Mobile and Office Mobile
- Support for access to hidden Wi-Fi networks
- Office 365 auto discovery and auto provisioning capabilities, support for all EAS policies in Office 365
- Lync Mobile client support, via a free Marketplace download in the near future.. (no news on a Skype client :-)
- Language Support - which can be critical in many global enterprise environments. Increases from the “top 5”; English, French, Italian, German and Spanish to now include: Chinese (simplified and traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Swedish.
- Background processing - I have not seen any Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors having released a native MDM client for their solutions yet, but have my bets that with the new SDK we should see that take form now..
More details on these features can found on Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone blog, and the Windows Phone for IT Pros blog.
One growing theme seems to be the Windows Phone support is centered around the Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, etc. current versions of the products.
We can hopefully also see a much smoother update process going forward from Microsoft and their OEM partners. The current “Where’s my phone update?” communication still taken some time to be updated and testing processes smoothed out. But even with the delays it should still be compared to the even poorer, or non-existent, updating that occurred with the previous legacy Microsoft Windows Mobile platform.
Although most consumers now can also compare to the Apple iOS or Google Android updating process. But since Apple manufactures their own devices (like RIM) and totally controls their contents, not a good comparison of a complex OEM partner ecosystem.
It will be interesting to see what Apple might release during their WWDC conference the week of June 6th, and what else might be made available this fall/winter..
If you have been interested in Mobile Device Management and living underneath a rock like in the funky GEICO insurance TV commercials here in the US, you might not have seen the recent new and first-time-ever Gartner report on Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions. :-)
Luckily if you don’t already have a paid Gartner account to get a copy, several of the mentioned MDM solutions have made it available in their own licensed copies. Here are a few that I have found links to so far: AirWatch
Several other MDM vendors have also released press releases on their placement in the Gartner report. I would only think there will be more vendors included or the stakes raised in the next yearly report. Several were not included due to gaps in their functionality, which Gartner made some calls on what the functional levels should be to be included.
Intel is hot on the trail of Apple and other tablet chipset manufacturers, and with the now released “Oak Trail” devices now shipping we can finally see what this means and if they can catch up in the frenzy that currently is taking place this summer in the tablet form factor..
In the near future the promised upcoming “Cedar Trail” chips in Q4/2011 will also allow 4Gb RAM, 12” screens and more to compete in the netbook or “Google Chromebook” laptop replacement category, but could also make for some beefy tablet devices..
I believe there is still an enterprise market for other non-iOS based devices, where the iOS platform still lacks some of the requirements. But the hardware side has been lacking in the right form factors. Some of the price points are now also coming down so they are competing head-to-head.
In comparison some of the currently known stats in this semi-random list: (more comparisons can be found here)
|Tablet ||CPU ||Weight ||Battery ||OS ||Comments |
|Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 ||Intel Atom Z670, 1.5Ghz ||1.7 lbs ||4 hrs ||Windows 7 || |
|Motion CL900 ||Intel Atom Z670, 1.5Ghz ||2.1 lbs ||8 hrs ||Windows 7 ||Gorilla Glass |
|Motorola Xoom ||Nvidia Tegra 2, Dual core, 1Ghz ||1.6 lbs ||10 hrs ||Android 3.1 || |
|Apple iPad 2 ||Apple A5, dual-core, 1Ghz ||1.33 lbs ||8-9 hrs ||iOS 4.x || |
|Apple iPad ||Apple A4, 1Ghz ||1.5 lbs ||8-9 hrs ||iOS 4.x || |
|BlackBerry PlayBook ||TI OMAP 4430, dual-core, 1Ghz ||0.9 lbs ||10 hrs ||BlackBerry Tablet OS (QNX) ||7” screen compared to 10” |
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 ||Nvidia Tegra 2, Dual core, 1Ghz ||1.2 lbs? ||10 hrs ||Android 3.0 (soon 3.1) ||Also in 8.9” size |
|ASUS Eee Pad Transformer ||Nvidia Tegra 2, Dual core, 1Ghz ||1.49 lbs ||9.5 hrs (16 hrs |
|Android 3.0 ||Add-on keyboard/ netbook |
|HP TouchPad ||Qualcomm Snapdragon, dual-core, 1.2Ghz ||1.6 lbs ||? ||HP webOS 3.0 || |
Apart from all the bad weather events going on, it will be an interesting summer indeed..