Technically, Nokia's E7 smartphone is a better option for enterprises than Windows Phone 7 phones, according to market researcher Gartner. But Nokia's announcement Friday that it will adopt Microsoft's Windows Phone as its primary smartphone OS means users have to prepare to switch OSes.
Businesses that have ordered the new Symbian 3-based Nokia E7, which started shipping this week, have bought a good product, but will have to move from that environment in about two years, according to Leif-Olof Wallin, research vice president at Gartner. Windows Phone 7 is mainly a consumer-focused OS.
"I'd rather go with an E7 today than a smartphone based on Windows Phone 7," said Wallin.
Windows Phone 7 isn't ready for the enterprise market yet. It still needs the ability to load applications from sources other than Microsoft's Marketplace, and on-device encryption, according to Wallin.
However, implementing on-device encryption on Windows Phone 7 isn't necessary, thanks to the lack of a removable memory card, the remote wipe feature and a password to disable the lock screen, said Peter Wissinger, business group director at Microsoft Nordic's mobile communications business. Adding on-device encryption also slows performance, drains the battery and makes the phone more difficult to use, Wissinger said.
IT departments can prepare by implementing a management platform that can handle multiple OSes, Wissinger said. Such platforms are available from companies including MobileIron and Excitor, he said.
Gartner's Wallin agreed. In general, implementing a management platform that can handle multiple OSes is a good strategy because pressure from users to bring their own phone to work is mounting, Wallin said.
At a briefing on the tie-up with Microsoft, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop fielded questions about the future of Nokia's Symbian-based Eseries smartphones by saying that Windows Phone 7, from now on, is its primary smartphone platform. He also objected to criticism that Windows Phone 7 isn't enterprise ready, and added that the productivity applications on the OS are the best there is.
Elop was president of Microsoft's business software group until Nokia tapped him to lead the company last September.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who was also at the announcement, hinted that Microsoft is working on adding more features to Windows Phone 7 that administrators and IT departments will appreciate, but did not go into detail.
Ballmer and Elop are speaking at Mobile World Congress, which starts Monday in Barcelona. Ballmer is scheduled to speak on Monday and Elop will participate in a keynote panel on Wednesday.