Windows Phone 8 – Anything “Enterprisy”?

So, after a long and bumpy road with the Windows Phone franchise (I’m leaving the good old Windows Mobile out of this) version 8 has arrived. A lot has been written and said about this OS already, and I’m not going to speculate as to how it will fare in the market. I want me one of them Nokia Lumias though 🙂

MSFT held a press event today, and went through a lot of the consumer focused features. I couldn’t care less about the Facebook integration, but other features certainly appeal to me as an end-user.

But is there anything interesting on the techie side of things? Possibly.

The first thing I noticed that I really liked, even though it doesn’t matter for actual end-users is the improvement on the developer & IT Pro side of it. The SDK has always included an emulator, but it hasn’t been really useful. It was locked down to running apps you created, and couldn’t be used for general exploration. There was an unlocked version floating around on the Internet, but this image was broken in other ways. The performance was also so-so.

Now the emulator ships as a vhd running on Hyper-V, and it isn’t locked down either. This is obviously nice. It does require a couple of things to work though. You’ll need Windows 8 to get Hyper-V on a client OS. (I haven’t tested with Hyper-V on a server.) Windows 7 will not work. And you need SLAT support in your CPU which meant that more than one of my computers were ineligible candidates for running the image.

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As far as I can tell it still requires installation alongside Visual Studio, but once installed can work stand-alone.

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I don’t let my kids play with my phone, but I know that a lot of people do. So, now there’s basically a kiosk-mode where the owner of the phone designates a few apps that are available for the kids to use. Replace "kids" with "end-user" and you see where I’m going 🙂

I don’t know if it’s possible to configure non-interactively, or whether an administrator would have to set it up manually, but I know there’s a lot of companies interested in good implementations of kiosk-modes for employees who primarily perform line-of-business tasks on their devices. (The devices available in the near future probably aren’t what we’d call rugged though if that’s a concern.)

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Unsurprisingly Exchange support is present, as well as integration with SharePoint and everything you’d expect. And finally – device encryption is supported! It should report itself as fully provisionable and supporting EAS 14.1.

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Windows Phone 7.x has been kinda locked down when it comes to deploying Enterprise/Company internal apps since that basically wasn’t an option. (I’m not counting workarounds like creating beta deployments and such.) It’s good to see that it is now possible to deploy Enterprise apps. Devices will need to enroll to the corporate infrastructure, and based on their AD credentials should gain access.

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So, is it manageable? It has been announced that it will be manageable with System Center Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 (currently in beta) and a future upgrade of Windows Intune. It will apparently be possible for third-party solutions to manage the devices as well, but the documentation for handling this is not available yet.

I know this isn’t exactly much of a review, but there’s not really all that much to share at the moment. I just wanted to serve up some thoughts, and of course I’ll be investigating further to see what this new version brings.

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