Top 10: Windows Phone 7 Enterprise Features

Many security features as well as carrier and device choice make this a good choice for businesses

Nothing is hotter than the mobile device space, and the release of Windows Phone 7 just turns up the dial. Microsoft put on a Windows Phone 7 launch event to introduce its new smartphone OS on October 11, 2010, with AT&T as the initial carrier. The phone platform joins Apple's iPhone, Google's Android devices, and RIM's Blackberry as one of the four best smartphone choices. In this column, I'll look at some of the main enterprise-oriented features in Windows Phone 7.

1. Password security—Security is one of the most important features for enterprise devices, and password security is the most basic level of security for controlling access to the device. Windows Phone 7 supports device security using passwords and PINs.

2. Device security—In addition, Windows Phone 7 provides several levels of device security. Windows Phone 7 doesn't allow you to access data on the phone by linking it to a computer. There's also no support for SD cards that can be removed from the device.

3. Central policy management—Windows Phone 7 supports the basic IT management policies through Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), such as requiring passwords and enforcing different levels of password strength, as well as the ability to remotely wipe the device and to restore its original factory settings after multiple failed unlock attempts. However, initially there isn't the ability to manage Windows Phone 7 through System Center.

4. Secure data communications—The transmission of data from Windows Phone 7 is encrypted using 128-bit or 256-bit SSL encryption. Windows Phone 7 also supports secure access to on-premises applications and network resources by using Microsoft's Forefront Universal Access Gateway (UAG).

5. Application isolation—All Windows Phone 7 applications are created using managed code, which ensures that the applications won't corrupt the underlying OS. In addition, Windows Phone 7 applications can't directly access the file system or other system resources. Developers must use APIs to access these types of system resources. Microsoft supplies a free Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone SDK, which enables the development of Windows Phone 7 applications using either C# or Visual Basic. You can get the SDK from Microsoft's website.

6. Isolated storage—Each application that runs on Windows Phone 7 can have its own storage area that's completely separate from the storage used by the phone OS or other Windows Phone 7 applications. This storage architecture keeps applications from inadvertently affecting the operations of other applications or of the phone itself.

7. Multiple carriers—Unlike the iPhone, which is locked into AT&T, Windows Phone 7 takes a carrier-neutral approach that will let Windows Phone 7 be used with many different carriers. Although the smartphone platform's initial debut was with AT&T, Microsoft has formed partnerships with all of the major US network carriers as well as many international carriers.

8. Multiple device choices—Microsoft has long refuted the claim that the company would produce the phone itself, and with the release of Windows Phone 7, the company's stance has been proven. Like Google's Android devices—but unlike the iPhone—Windows Phone 7 phones will be manufactured by multiple device makers, including HTC, Dell, and Samsung.

9. Support for multiple Exchange Server mailboxes—Windows Phone 7 lets users synchronize their phone with multiple Exchange accounts using EAS. Windows Phone 7 can sync with Exchange 2010, Exchange 2007, and Exchange Online. In addition, Windows Phone 7 supports connectivity to POP3 and IMAP mail accounts.

10. Mobile Office apps—Mobile versions of the Microsoft Office apps were a feature I used in Windows Mobile and might be the only thing I miss now in the Android phone I currently have. Windows Phone provides a mobile edition of Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and SharePoint, which is integrated with the Office hub.

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