Windows Phone 7: Why Slower Uptake is Better for Business

Rob Enderle

The initial Windows Phone 7 reviews are out and they are largely lukewarm. Most folks like the simplified interface, improved ease of use and hardware design, but are upset with the device's inability to maintain state, selective multi-tasking, lack of cut and paste, and too few applications. But the reviews are from a personal perspective. The biggest hit appears to be with games, something that businesses don't want, anyway.


I was reading longtime Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley's column on Windows Phone 7 today and it got me thinking that this is actually what a business would like to have: A slow-rollout product rather than one that has tons of employees suddenly showing up demanding access, like the latest iPhone where the security exposures aren't yet known. This last was driven home by the severe security exposures the Mac version of FaceTime just demonstrated. (By the way, if you aren't aware of this problem, you should be. Nobody should be messing with the Mac version of FaceTime until this problem is corrected).


Let's explore why businesses should like Windows Phone 7 better, largely because it won't be adopted very quickly.


Measured Adoption


IT organizations, whether in the mid-market or enterprise, aren't set up to turn on a dime and adopt or even accept the latest technology. There aren't large teams of people sitting around waiting for the next iPhone or iPad to be announced so they can joyously frolic with the new technology and eagerly get it integrated with the complex networking, security, and application infrastructure that make up the typical IT environment.


In short, IT wants lots of notice, preferably years of notice, before having to deal with a new technology. As with most new phones, the Windows Phone 7 doesn't yet have the applications available that will allow it to be properly assured on a company network, wiped or tracked if lost, or properly encrypted.


In small numbers. this phone can be integrated, largely though its browser and office interfaces into some of the company's key services. But IT would say no to massive numbers, a strategy that clearly didn't work with the iPhone.


Windows Phone 7 Initial Impressions


There are three key shortcomings to the initial Windows Phone 7 platform that should deter large numbers of people at this point. This will give IT and third parties the time needed to create policies so that the phone can be safely used by the time large numbers of executives and employees are likely to want it.


The first, cut and paste, is largely a tempest in a teapot because few have ever used this feature. While it shows up negatively in reviews, it does little actual damage to the experience with the device. Multi-tasking slows background applications and is likely more of a blessing than a curse for an IT reviewer. It means malware can only run in the foreground, where it is vastly easier to discover. Finally is the inability to retain state when switching applications or suspending the phone-essentially not saving the latest status. This seriously damages the gaming experience, an activity that IT doesn't care much about. This last will be problematic for business applications as well, but might actually be an interim security advantage because as state is lost, so is the information that has been entered on the screen, making it unavailable to anyone who gained unauthorized access to the phone.

Wrapping Up:


Every one of these problems will be corrected in the next three to 12 months, and the result will be a platform that has the potential of an iPhone or Android product. In the meantime, IT will have these three to 12 months to figure out how to deal with it. In addition, the business-application vendors also will have time to fully test their applications.


In the end, assuming IT uses the time to become familiar with the unique exposures in this new phone platform, the fact that Windows Phone 7 isn't yet a product folks will line up to buy is a good thing. IT can more easily deal with a small number of early adopters and can more easily say no before a wave of screaming executives demands access to critical systems before the related exposures are known or understood.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 21, 2010 4:43 AM a. asdf a. asdf  says:

So basically, it took Microsoft 3 years to come up with a first generation iPhone competitor. I can't wait for the Windows iPad competitor to be released in 2013.

Oct 21, 2010 4:46 AM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says: in response to a. asdf

Me either   

Oct 22, 2010 2:57 AM Kevin Breid Kevin Breid  says:
Oct 23, 2010 1:08 AM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says: in response to alima amoser

The question is whether you are using Exchange or not.   The difficulty with desktop sync is that you have to have your PC on for it to work and most have switched to using the mail service rather than the PC as the host.    What email service are you connecting Outlook to and do you have your calendar on it as well or on something else?   So it would be better to sync with the mail/calendar service than with the PC and the mail service will dictate which phone works better.    Also is there one carrier you prefer, not every carrier has every phone and this will help me narrow down the choices. 

Oct 23, 2010 2:50 AM alima amoser alima amoser  says: in response to a. asdf

Need a phone preferably a touch phone that will sync with MS Outlook, Calendar, Contacts etc. so I can manage my business. I like touch phone because: A - I can't handle the tiny little keys on a Blackberry as not only do I have fat fingers, but also have very bad vision and can't see the darn things. B - I like the bells an whistles that come along with a touch screen usually. C -I like modern like things. So I guess my real question is what is the best smartphone on the market that can easily sync with outlook on windows 7 OS? Thank you for your help.

Xtreme No


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