Microsoft announced a handful of new business-oriented features for the next major version of Windows Phone during Monday's TechEd 2011 keynote address. These features will be included in a release of the mobile OS, codenamed Mango and to be branded as Windows Phone 7.5, that Microsoft hopes to ship by the end of 2011.
"At TechEd we're highlighting a number of new capabilities designed to help you stay productive on the go," Microsoft's Paul Bryan wrote in a blog post announcing the features. "Mango is designed to make you even more productive right out-of-the-box—helping you quickly and easily stay connected with the people and information that are most important to you."
The "Mango" update to Windows Phone 7 will include the following business-related enhancements, Microsoft says:
Lync client. Lync Mobile will provide the Lync communications experience on Windows Phone, with instant messaging and presence capabilities, and integration with hosted (Office 365) and on premises versions of the Lync server solution. The Lync app will be a free download from the Windows Phone Marketplace, according to Microsoft. (So it's not really part of Mango, per se.)
Office 365 integration. Mango will include deep integration with Office 365, which provides low-cost, hosted versions of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync to individuals and customers of all sizes. This will include an Office 365 account type and Office 365 quick setup link in the Office hub.
Better business email. Windows Phone's already excellent email client will be bolstered with some useful new business functionality, including pinnable email folders, so you can jump quickly from the Windows Phone home screen into the email folders you access most frequently, and a new Outlook-style Conversation view feature that lets you organize email threads by conversation. Additionally, a new server search feature will cause older, server-based emails to show up in phone-based searches.
New IT controls. Expanding on the Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) policy support provided by the initial version of Windows Phone, Mango will add support for complex passwords (including alphanumeric passwords). It will also support Microsoft's Information Rights Management (IRM) document protection scheme, and allow Windows Phone devices (finally) to interact with hidden Wi-Fi networks.