Could Windows Phone 7 Succeed With IT?

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Although Microsoft with its Windows Phone 7 platform has tried to satisfy the consumer market with capabilities for music, video, and games, the smartphone's tie-in to Microsoft's back-end server applications could give it an edge in Microsoft-dominated IT shops.

Developers can build applications to access systems such as the SharePoint collaboration platform, BizTalk Server business process management system, and the SQL Server database, said Scott Kerfoot, Microsoft's senior director of technology evangelism.

[ Windows Phone 7 will be a serious game-changer, InfoWorld columnist J. Peter Bruzzese says. But InfoWorld's Galen Gruman points out it doesn't offer basic enterprise security. ]

"You can expose lists in SharePoint as Web services and you can access them directly through the custom application," Kerfoot said. Custom applications can be built to link to servers that use Web-based standards, such as Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud platform.

The enterprise is likely where Microsoft will differentiate itself and make inroads with Windows Phone 7, even as the company fights its way through the consumer market, said analyst Al Hilwa of IDC: "We have seen some of that with SharePoint integration in the Office Hub, Windows Phone 7's 'lite' suite of Office apps, but document editing with Office and a fuller capabilities around device management with integration into IT desktop management will likely come to fulfill that value proposition. Also, as these capabilities are delivered, making wholesale deals with large enterprises will help [Microsoft] make some of the lost ground over the last couple of years."

Windows Phone 7 will be a "force to reckon with," said Brian Reed, chief marketing officer at BoxTone, which provides IT service management for mobile systems. "Windows Phone 7 will be out there, it'll be a player. They've got really good enterprise integration from the back office," Reed said.

But he concurs that the initial version lacks basic security capabilities such as on-device encryption, VPN support, and required-complex-password support. Such capabilities will likely be added over time, he said: "I would expect Windows Phone 7 to add more enterprise features in 2011."

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