Windows Phone 8.1 – MDM & Enterprise

The cat is finally out of the bag – even though the rumors have been making the rounds on the interwebs for some time now Microsoft just confirmed details officially for the update to Windows Phone codenamed Blue, which will bring the version number to 8.1.

Lot’s of new stuff of course, and you can expect seeing MSDN articles, sessions on Channel 9, and a bunch of blog posts covering the OS from A to Z. I’m not going to duplicate all those efforts, and as per usual I’ll rather try to cover some of the enterprisy stuff like for instance Mobile Device Management (MDM) since that’s kinda my cup of tea.

I’m not going to run through the entire history of the Windows Mobile/Phone operating system line, but Windows Phone is finally starting to look like it did in the good old days before switching to the Metro-era. (Behind the covers that is, not the parts you see up front in the UI.)

I have previously looked at Windows Phone 8.0, and if you need to catch up on that you can find that here:
http://mobilitydojo.net/2013/03/31/understanding-windows-phone-8-mdm/

Let’s take a look at some of the additions and changes coming with WP 8.1 in this department.

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Windows Phone 8 GDR3 Adds MDM WiFi

Windows Phone 8 has been around for a while now, and while it greatly improved upon MDM compared to Windows Phone 7 there has been some missing pieces.

I have previously written about how MDM works on the platform in general:
http://mobilitydojo.net/2013/03/31/understanding-windows-phone-8-mdm/

While I’m able and willing to configure my wireless networks manually on my phone it struck me as an annoyance that MDM couldn’t provision and configure WiFi for me. Since it wasn’t available I thought that this capability was in the "will be available in future versions of Windows Phone"-department (as in something coming after WP 8.0), but someone’s been busy and it has now been added to Windows Phone with the GDR3 update.

GDR3 may not be available for your specific device as of writing this. If you have a Windows Phone developer account you can dev unlock your phone to download the new build without waiting for your OEM and/or operator. I do not know if it’s purely an OS change or if there is a driver dependency as well so if you have an issue getting it to work keep that in mind.

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Mobile Authentication for a Web Site with a YubiKey NEO

I keep up with what gets posted on Channel 9 (lot’s of good stuff there), and a few months back I watched a demo which really is quite the smooth solution:
http://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/Web+Camps+TV/Benjamin-Soulier-Logs-into-a-Web-Site-Using-a-Bar-Code-and-Windows-Phone

What they show is how a normal web site presents a QR code for login, and when you scan the QR code with an app on your Windows Phone 8 device you are authenticated, and the web site refreshes it’s view to show that you are now logged in! (The web site is shown on a computer where there is no direct communications channel to or from the mobile device.) You gotta watch it to understand it. (Forward to around the 15-minute mark for the actual demo.)

Unfortunately there isn’t any sample code to follow the video, so you can’t just download a module and install in your own solution. While I don’t know the specifics of the implementation there were a few key words that got me thinking about how it could be done.

About a year ago I did two posts on a product called YubiKey:
http://mobilitydojo.net/2012/05/09/two-factor-authentication-on-mobile-devices/
http://mobilitydojo.net/2012/05/14/active-directory-federation-services-and-yubikeys/

Nice product, and I use it for some of my authentication needs, but I never got around to doing anything really snazzy with it. So I thought I’d see if the YubiKey could be used for a scenario similar to the one in the video.

Semi-long post, so you might want to grab a cup of coffee before going into the details. If you’re in a hurry just skip to the bottom of the post where there’s a video showing the end result 🙂

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