'Windows Phone 8 is business ready,' but it doesn't matter

Windows Phone 8 got its moment in the spotlight at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference today. The question is, why did Microsoft even bother?

Windows Phone 8 got its moment in the spotlight at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference today. The question is, why did Microsoft even bother?

The core audience members at the Worldwide Partner Conference are resellers, integrators, service providers and consultants who sell Microsoft products to businesses. But as the success of the iPhone and Android shows, it’s consumers who are in charge in the smartphone market. If it were up to IT, BlackBerry would still rule the roost.

Sure, Microsoft showed off some welcome enterprise features in Windows Phone 8 this morning. Thom Gruhler, the Windows Phone marketing vice president, highlighted its integration with Microsoft’s other business software, including Exchange, Office and SharePoint, and he talked about its device and application management capabilities.

“Windows Phone 8 is business ready,” Gruhler said. But it doesn’t matter.

When you go to buy a new phone, you don’t say, “This one can connect securely to my corporate intranet? Sweet! I’ll take it!” You base your decision on more personal reasons: “How does this help me stay in touch with friends and family?” “How does it help me organize my life?”

In an attempt to highlight Windows Phone’s consumer appeal, Gruhler noted that seven of the 10 highest-rated smartphones on Amazon are Windows Phones. But that only illustrates Microsoft’s problem further: Windows Phone isn’t a bad platform. The people who use it seem to like it a lot. Most consumers simply have no reason to switch from the iPhone or Android.

If Windows Phone 8 is going to catch on, it’ll have to give consumers a reason. And being “business ready” isn’t it.

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Given RIM's uncertain future, maybe Microsoft sees a market opportunity to replace the BlackBerry as IT's enterprise device of choice?


I'm just thinking aloud. There are still plenty of people with dumb phones. At the same time, there are plenty of people, I think, who are required by their business to have a smartphone, but don't want to use their personal device.


It might just be a tiny beachhead for MSFT, but they need to take every small opportunity they can being so far behind.


Also, mobile changes quickly. It wouldn't surprise me if in two years everyone was tired of Android...


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That may be Microsoft's thinking, but I don't think that's a good plan. IT's choice matters less and less these days. It's good that Microsoft added all these enterprise features, but it's not going to help them sell any phones.


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Colin,


What do you think would be a good enough reason for someone to switch from Android/Apple to Windows 8?


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I've worked for Fortune 100 companies, the government sector, as well as mid-sized and small companies. In the larger corporations and the government sector, IT often distributes cell phones to all employees who require a cell phone to perform their job. Even some smaller corporations, concerned with security, issue cell phones to employees. Enterprise and government sectors are still large cell phone customers. It is wise of MS to recognize both the consumer and the corporate markets.


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We as the consumer and workers need something more than the iPhone/Android phone.  Not all workers just check social sites, we want something we can use to check corporate data and do our work at the same time.  I think WP8 will have a good chance of succeeding on this regards.


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iPhones and iPads are consumer toys. I know, my wife and I have both. There are severe limitations placed on these Apple gadgets and they do not fit well in the corporate environment. I know this, as I have been managing the rollout of iphones at our company and also allowed certain employees access to our email servers and VPN. There really isn't much that the iphone can do that the Windows Phone can't. But there will certainly be things that the Windows Phone can do that the iPhone cannot do, such as full functionality of MS Office not stripped down copy of it on the iPad. Just try creating an email with two or more attachments on an iPad and you will know what I mean.


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I have used MSFT phones in the past and currently run Android on both tablet and phone. I liked MS Phone 7 features like Office and Sharepoint integration, but after several years of hardcore use, I prefer other Android apps (which are in abundance) for general productivity over several MS native apps. This has been insufficiently addressed by MS and if devs of popular apps won't produce versions for Phone 8, it will never take off. It'll be jsut another Blackberry appendix.


Besides, I can always access our corporate network with all apps and desktops via secure Citrix Access Gateway with both iPhone and Android.


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