It's been widely reported that Microsoft is focusing on theconsumer market first with the release of Windows Phone 7, and that's a smart strategy. Apple and Google have raised the bar of what consumers expect out of their smartphones, so Microsoft has to satisfy their needs first. Previous iterations of Microsoft's mobile efforts -- namely Windows Mobile 5, 6, and 6.5 -- fared poorly when compared to the iPhone and Android devices. And no IT manager relishes the thought of forcing employees to use a smartphone that is vastly inferior to their personal mobile device. So while Microsoft's "consumers first" approach is the right strategy, system administrators will still need to wait for enterprise-friendly features, like the ability to distribute apps in the enterprise without going through the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.
Here in Las Vegas at DevConnections, Todd Biggs, the Director of Product Management for Windows Phone Marketplace at Microsoft, was asked by a conference attendee if Microsoft would allow IT administrators to deploy apps directly to Windows Phone 7 devices, and Biggs said that ability wasn't available, but Microsoft was exploring options. "There won't be the ability [at launch] to distribute applications outside the marketplace," Bigg said. "But we are looking into how we enable other [app deployment] scenarios in the future."
Biggs went on to explain that could include private app distribution and types of authentication that could give IT administrators more control over which apps are distributed in the enterprise.
Computerworld's Preston Gralla and The Register's Gavin Clarke have both reported that Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and Mobile Device Manager won't support the deployment of Windows Phone 7 apps at launch, with the Register citing a Directions on Microsoft report that indicates Redmond is suggesting that enterprises deploy their apps on the public marketplace and then restrict downloads to employees with Windows Live IDs.
Will the lack of enterprise-friendly features slow your adoption or deployment of Windows Phone 7 devices in your own organization? Feel free to comment on this article or contact me on Twitter to get the discussion started.
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