Late in 2010, Microsoft sought to position Windows Phone 7 as a consumer device--a smartphone sleek as the Apple iPhone or Google Android. Advertisements emphasized the baked-in Xbox Live and Zune services.
Windows Phone 7 had the "Office" Hub, with easy access to the mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and SharePoint. But that consumer emphasis marked something of a sea change from Windows Mobile, Microsoft's previous mobile platform, which enjoyed a significant business presence even as consumers abandoned it for rival offerings.
But businesses remain a key audience for Microsoft products, so it's no surprise that Microsoft would begin baking productivity enhancements into Windows Phone--starting with the "Mango" update, scheduled for release later in 2011.
Those new business features include the ability to pin email folders to the smartphone's start screen, search a server for email items no longer stored on the device, force emails to obey IT administrators' policies, and a threading email replies into a "conversation view." Users will also capability to save and share Office documents via Office 365 and Windows Live SkyDrive.
"In addition to helping you stay productive, Mango also includes new capabilities for IT," Paul Bryan, a senior director of business experience for the Windows Phone team, wrote in a May 16 posting on The Windows Blog. "With new features such as complex (alpha-numeric) password support, Information Rights Management support for protecting e-mails and Office documents, and support for access to hidden corporate Wi-Fi networks."
Microsoft's Lync Mobile will introduce unified communications capabilities to Windows Phone. In a May 16 conversation with eWEEK, Microsoft executives demurred from commenting on how Microsoft's recent acquisition of Skype will play into Windows Phone, although it's generally assumed that Skype assets will eventually influence Lync's evolution.
A May 8 edition of the Windows Phone Dev Podcast revealed that Mango will include Bing Audio, which allows a smartphone to identify any songs playing in the vicinity, and Bing Vision, an augmented-reality feature that lets a smartphone scan barcodes, QR Codes and the like. That comes on top of multitasking, Internet Explorer 9, and a turn-by-turn navigation feature with voice guidance.
In other words, there's a reason why "Mango" advances the version number of Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 7.5--it's a major update, and indicative of Microsoft's continuing efforts to close the massive software lead enjoyed by the iPhone and Google Android.
For more, read the eWEEK article: Windows Phone's 'Mango' Update Faces Broad Enterprise Challenges.
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