Microsoft is launching Windows Phone 7 in a big way. There will be at least four phone manufacturers, Samsung, HTC, Dell and LG, and two carriers-AT&T and T-Mobile-in the U.S., along with dozens of other carriers globally. Windows Phone 7 will bring a new user interface, a new version of Mobile Office, and a new Mobile Outlook client. Your IT team will have to learn all of this, and it will have to learn how to give the new Windows Phone 7 users access to your SharePoint Server (assuming you decide that's a good thing), and you'll have to worry about security.
It's too early to know for sure what the new user interface will bring in terms of management. While it looks suspiciously Kin-like, there's every possibility that those looks can be deceiving. But in terms of fitting in with your enterprise, the signs are encouraging at least. While we don't know yet exactly how closely the new version of Windows will interact with Exchange, previous versions were tightly integrated, and there's no reason to think this will have changed. The new version of Windows Phone 7 will let users connect to multiple Exchange servers-something that's already supported by some other smartphones.
Equally important, Microsoft is providing a solution to the issue of lost or stolen phones. Any user can log into a site on Windows Live and erase their phone, lock it, or place return instructions on the screen. This feature will also let you see where the device is physically located, so you can find it if it's in the bus company's Lost and Found department. Presumably, IT managers will have these same capabilities with Windows Phones in their companies.
In one sense, integrating the Windows Phone will be a little easier than integrating iPhones and Android devices was when they first arrived. The Microsoft Windows Phone 7 will come with features that the other devices didn't have initially, and IT staffs that are already familiar with supporting Windows Mobile 6.5 shouldn't have a huge learning curve.
The biggest downside to the Windows Phone 7 is that the device is being heavily promoted for entertainment rather than work. This means that you'll have to also deal with your employees wanting to download movies over the company network, but there are ways to control this that you probably already have in place.
Exactly how much trouble this is likely to cause your company depends a lot on just how successful the devices are. If these turn out to be really good devices that provide the users with a lot of value, then you'll probably start seeing them in large numbers, just like you did with iPhones and Android devices. On the other hand, if mobile relevance slips through Microsoft's fingers again, you'll know, because no one will be asking to put their Windows phone on the company network.