Microsoft officially announced the release of its brand new Windows Phone 7.5 (WP7.5) "Mango" mobile OS at the end of September. But despite a pile of new business-oriented features—the most notable of which I detailed in a "Best New WP7.5 Enhancements for Enterprises" post—the OS may not be as enterprise friendly as the software giant would have you believe.
One major reason why this is true: WP7.5 does not support full on-device encryption via Microsoft Exchange, which many organizations require in order to connect handhelds to corporate resources. In fact, I've been unable to link my WP7.5 Samsung Focus review unit Microsoft gave me for evaluation to CIO.com's Exchange Server for this very reason. Which, frankly, makes writing a business-oriented review difficult, if not impossible.
From Microsoft Spokeswoman Julie Morgan:
"At this time, we do not provide on-device encryption as Windows Phone supports several other technologies to help organizations protect information, but we are continuing to evolve the product and are looking at various solutions to aid different customers."
Whatever those other technologies are, they don't help me, because without on-device encryption, which "scrambles" data stored on corporate devices to protect sensitive information should a handheld go lost or end up stolen, I cannot access my corporate e-mail, calendar, etc.
And even if your mobile security policies don't call for device encryption and you're able to connect a WP7.5 device to Exchange for e-mail access, etc., the OS may not be your best option right now, considering the large number of reports currently popping up on Microsoft's Windows Phone user forums from frustrated Windows Phone owners.
Many users trying to employ WP7.5 devices along Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 say that "when replying to an [Outlook] email in a Exchange inbox on the phone the original email text is not included in the sent reply." And others are reporting problems with Outlook calendar synchronization via ActiveSync when using Windows Phone 7.5. (It's unclear whether the issues also affect users on newer version of Microsoft Exchange.)
From one such user who goes by the handle "E46Envy:"
"I really want to like WP7 and switch from Android, but this is a deal breaker for me. There are too many disappointments with WP7. Looks like I'll end up selling my phone and sticking with Android."
And another from "libby"
"Mango rollout to 30 users at my small business on hold because of this."
Not good, Microsoft.
The WP7.5 Exchange/Outlook "hiccups" are likely just bugs, and Microsoft should address the issues promptly. But combined with the lack of full on-device encryption, WP7.5 may seem like an unsuitable option to some businesses and organizations who don't want, or can't afford, the hassle of waiting around for resolutions.
(Read my "WP7.5 "Mango": 10 Things Consumers Need to Know" for more details on the OS.)