Editorial

Windows Phone 8, The Enterprise, and a two-week adventure

When it comes to getting your work done, you typically don’t like to change up your routine unless the powers that be force it upon you. Besides, if the technology you are using now is working well and helping you achieve your goals, changing out one of your core components is often a risky endeavor--but that’s exactly what I did.

My daily driver is an iPhone 5 that was provided to me by my company as it works with all of our existing equipment and more so, our support is setup to help out end users with this particular device. To really put Windows Phone 8 through my most rigorous test, I swapped an HTC 8X from Verizon for my iPhone 5.

I chose the 8X for several reasons for this experiment as the Lumia 920 is too large for my preference. There is nothing wrong with the Lumia 920 outside of its heft, but the 8X is a darn good phone and you should read our full review here.

I took both my iPhone 5 and the 8X to our IT department and said, “ I need to replace this (iPhone 5) with this (HTC 8X).” After answering quite a few questions like  “why are you doing this” and, “stop bothering me I have real work to do,” I said that I would be back in an hour and needed my device up and running. Why an hour? In the land of IT, you don’t have all day to refresh hardware or setup new accounts. If they could not get my 8X up and running from opening the box to syncing all my needed information, the platform would be a bust as it would require more than the allotted resource time to complete the task (a new iPhone 5 setup is rated at 1 hour).

I could have easily setup my device myself but I wanted to see if someone who was relatively unfamiliar with Windows Phone would be able to navigate the waters. It turns out that my IT department rocks: In less than 30 minutes, my phone was dropped off at my desk, ready to go.

“Here you go Brad, Skype, Email, calendar, and WIFI are all setup, you’ll need to change your passwords once you login, but other than that, you’re all set.”

When quizzed about the setup, I was told that it took only a few minutes after getting through the initial boot-up sequence to get the device to a useable state. There was one issue as well with the setup, which I will touch on in a little bit.

I have used Windows Phone briefly out in the field but because the phone was not on Verizon, I had to use it in limited capacity. This time around, with Verizon rocking the HTC 8X, I could put Windows Phone 8 through a vigorous personal test over two weeks to find out if it truly fit all of my needs.

I don’t just "use" my phone, I live on my phone from a work perspective. Seeing that I work on client location 90% of the time, my phone is my office and I can kill an iPhone 5 battery by lunchtime on an average day.

From the start, Office on Windows Phone is the best on the market, hands down. From a personal use scenario, nothing comes close to what Windows Phone offers in terms of being able to edit, view and manage documents with the built-in applications. The simple fact that these applications come with the device and offer significant functionality compared to the market alternatives is a big win for Windows Phone.

As you would expect, email and calendar appointments all work great. While I don’t think that the calendar features are anything better than iOS, they are certainly on par and offer up an experience that most will find easy to navigate and utilize.

Skype has made significant improvements from the last enterprise test I did with a Lumia. For all practical purposes, Skype is a great experience on Windows Phone. The Verizon LTE connection held strong during calls and Windows Phone showed no hesitation while conferencing with colleagues. The dreaded echo that I have heard in the past appears to have been silenced.

Everything was going well with my 8X until one email came and ruined my day. You see, there is one feature that business users might need, and they may not need it often, but when they do, it’s a critical component. The item that’s missing from Windows Phone is the ability to use a VPN, which in my case, was a barrier that could be worked around, but not conveniently.

Why is using a VPN required? In some cases, sensitive documents are stored using mechanisms that will not allow you to download the content, only view them. In my case, I was sent an email with a link to such a system and could not view the documents on my 8X because it lacked a VPN connection. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the iPhone allows for such a connection and I was forced to use this device to compensate for Windows Phone 8’s shortcomings.

Beyond the VPN, the list of items holding users back from Windows Phone 8 is growing shorter by the day. In fact, the app situation is quickly improving. It's not yet perfect, but the hardcoded features from Windows Phone 8 will meet the expectation of nearly any user.

The ability to get a new Windows Phone 8 device up and running with minimal overhead is a huge victory for Microsoft and one that should be highly praised. Overall, the few weeks that I spent using Verizon’s HTC 8X were positive and the platform is beginning to mature to a point that recommending Windows Phone only comes with one caveat: the lack of VPN.

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Ronnet said,

It's supposed to come with Apollo+ but that too is a rumor.

Although Nokia is putting focus on the business market now so that plus common sense should put some pressure on Microsoft to deliver.


Exactly, and VPN support has not been confirmed or committed to. For businesses looking to move to Windows Phone, transparency and information on what is coming is a must. They still need to develop their enterprise apps and everything too.

I don't think Microsoft realizes how much work needs to be done for the enterprise / business market...

Bryan Harmon said,
I thought the update to Apollo was supposed to include VPN support?

since WP8 os pretty much a rewrite of the base OS, using the new kernel a lot of work was required. This is now done so updates to 8 will start to see more features, vpn wont be a problem now the networking stack is the same as windows 8/server 2012.

i can see features coming thick and fast now the initial rewrite of the core is complete and 8 is out there.

duddit2 said,

since WP8 os pretty much a rewrite of the base OS, using the new kernel a lot of work was required. This is now done so updates to 8 will start to see more features, vpn wont be a problem now the networking stack is the same as windows 8/server 2012.

i can see features coming thick and fast now the initial rewrite of the core is complete and 8 is out there.


Agreed. Here's hoping future updates continue to impress. Features like VPN Support are huge and will allow WP to gain ground in the business market.

I miss VPN a lot too, I can't imagine why don't they include this feature, it is strongly rated at windowsphone.uservoice.com, the OS core is shared between desktop and phone versions so from the technical side it would be very simple to implement.

Vladislav Nagorny said,
I miss VPN a lot too, I can't imagine why don't they include this feature, it is strongly rated at windowsphone.uservoice.com, the OS core is shared between desktop and phone versions so from the technical side it would be very simple to implement.

Exactly. I really hope it's coming...

VERY good review. I am glad to see the lack of VPN addressed in a review. I hope the is added in the next update as it is the only thing holding our company back.

Overall I found the review quite balanced; I will not comment about battery life because, in my experience, the hardware play a relevant role and I do not have a X8, I have a Lumia 920.
There are few things I strongly disagree about though: the first is about the Calendar app that is totally inadequate, at least for a business user; there is no week view and consequentially no week number, the monthly view is basically useless because is impossible to read it and not zoomable, no support for categories, less than ever color coded ones. I do not like the fact that you can only use a six characters password, even worse only numeric ones are allowed.
Furthermore all these improvements were highly rated among users of WP7 but, at least so far, have been completely ignored.

Fritzly said,
Overall I found the review quite balanced; I will not comment about battery life because, in my experience, the hardware play a relevant role and I do not have a X8, I have a Lumia 920.
There are few things I strongly disagree about though: the first is about the Calendar app that is totally inadequate, at least for a business user; there is no week view and consequentially no week number, the monthly view is basically useless because is impossible to read it and not zoomable, no support for categories, less than ever color coded ones. I do not like the fact that you can only use a six characters password, even worse only numeric ones are allowed.
Furthermore all these improvements were highly rated among users of WP7 but, at least so far, have been completely ignored.

Though the calendar app can certainly be improved upon, it's unfair and inaccurate to claim that these requests have been ignored... The have made tremendous changes to the OS as a whole to allow them to better make improvements going forward. These things take time. This "everything should be done now" mentality shows nothing but a lack of understanding of what is involved in the development process...

Objectively speaking your "everything should be done now" statement seems clueless, to say the least. These features were available in VM, missed in WP7 and are still missed in WP8. If you want to market a device as suitable for business users you must address the request of these kind of users, simple as that.
Personally I do not consider several years a short amount of time but personal opinions are indeed personal opinions.

Fritzly said,
Objectively speaking your "everything should be done now" statement seems clueless, to say the least. These features were available in VM, missed in WP7 and are still missed in WP8. If you want to market a device as suitable for business users you must address the request of these kind of users, simple as that.
Personally I do not consider several years a short amount of time but personal opinions are indeed personal opinions.

WP8, as I'm sure you wouldn't acknowledge, was a massive rework of the OS, which was meant to allow them to be able to leverage everything they have done across platforms... That took TIME. Now, they can move on to implementing new features... I for instance have been very vocal about VPN support. I'm sure it's coming, and I can't wait. But I'm certainly not going to obsess over a couple of minor calendar improvements... They'll get to adding features to the calendar. But expecting them to somehow just do everything and release a feature complete WP8 that has every feature anyone could ever want and requires nothing else to ever be added to it is both ridiculous a ignorant of what is involved in developing software.

You, of course, will tell me that you know better, being such a knowledgeable member of the tech community. [rolleyes]

Minor... for you. Spending some times reading WP8 forums could make you realize that many other users do not share your opinion.
At the end of story everybody is entitled to his own opinion and to open the wallet to buy what fit his personal needs. I have used Windows phones since the Motorola 200 but if MS will not be able to satisfy my needs I will look somewhere else. It is a phone not a dogma of faith, at least not for me.
Btw resort to insults just highlights your lack of arguments.
Similis cum similibus...

I think vpn support is the next big feature that will come to wp8 in the next update. After that I don't see anything holding it back as far as business goes.

GP007 said,
I think vpn support is the next big feature that will come to wp8 in the next update. After that I don't see anything holding it back as far as business goes.

Agreed. And maybe more file type options, but VPN support is the last big one I think.

What's VPN support like in previous WP products like? I've got a VPN setup using routing & remote access on a 2K3 server and I know it's completely unsupported in iOS and I'd need to switch to some other VPN provider to be able to use it in iOS... Does the MS type work out the box on previous releases?

n_K said,
What's VPN support like in previous WP products like? I've got a VPN setup using routing & remote access on a 2K3 server and I know it's completely unsupported in iOS and I'd need to switch to some other VPN provider to be able to use it in iOS... Does the MS type work out the box on previous releases?

WP has no VPN support currently. I can't comment on iOS, but the type of VPN you are using could be the problem. Cisco VPN for example is known to not play nice with other technologies...

If you used Rights Management System with Exchange for email privacy then the phone would be able to decrypt and open it through its Activesync connection.

scorp508 said,
If you used Rights Management System with Exchange for email privacy then the phone would be able to decrypt and open it through its Activesync connection.

That doesn't solve half of the problems for which VPN is needed (or used)...

This is completely a one sided review. Most Windows Phone 8 users are not able to use their phone within their enterprise, and that is a fact. I expected Neowin to do some background research before making this all about VPN. A casual search on Nokia, Microsoft, ATT forums will easily give enough information to cover both sides of this story as well raise awareness to get an update from Microsoft.

Today's enterprise requires that most devices support device encryption and Windows Phone does support device encryption but here is the problem- there is no support for SD card encryption. Even for phones like Lumia 920 that does not have an SD card cannot connect to Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync due to a bug in the implementation.

When the policy parameter Require Encryption on Storage Card is enabled, Windows Phone 8 devices misreport the presence of an SD card, even if the device has no SD card slot. The policy enforcement occurs, provisioning fails, and the device cannot be synchronized. You can read more on their support site: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2464593

This long thread on the Microsoft community is a testament to this problem: http://answers.microsoft.com/e...3ce3-49e4-8069-ecdccd55a5f9

This is also a problem for those enterprises that are using google apps and running Microsoft exchange activesync. Take a look at this request and policy that will throw the 85010013 error on your windows phone.

Request : https://m.google.com/Microsoft-Server-ActiveSync
Server Data:Provision/Policies/Policy/Data/EASProvisionDoc/RequireStorageCardEncryption=1

Overall, I hope Microsoft fixes this issue soon but we need Neowin to report all sides of the story specially when we have thousands reporting this error on all the forums possible.

This was his personal experience and every company have a different setup. The VPN issue was what the author found to be troublesome for himself.

Of course there are going to be some niggling issues with a new platform. We have to give MS some time to sort out these issues depending on the priorities that they have. I am hoping that Enterprise-friendly features will be coming real fast in future OS updates.

hahahah 30 minutes ready to go??? MS software's are not meant to be easy. if WP is 30 min then iPhone should be 2 minutes. I have had windows PC's taking weeks to fix. same with any windows product.

We use Exchange on Office 365 and took me five minutes to add my Lumia to the network. ..
Granted, as other pointed out, depending on your company requirements the required time can vary but overall we found the process quite straightforward.

still1 said,
hahahah 30 minutes ready to go??? MS software's are not meant to be easy. if WP is 30 min then iPhone should be 2 minutes. I have had windows PC's taking weeks to fix. same with any windows product.

What nonsense is this? LOL

An iPhone setup takes an hour?

Im an IT Admin and I manage 60 iPhones and it took me 15 minutes at most to get one up and running.

Profile Manager is your friend. If you use the tools correctly, I can get a phone back to a user, where all they have to do is enter there network password for email, vpn and calendar and be up in minutes.

Coporate Apps / Volume Purchased Apps are pushed to the device overtime. All the essentials are there and with another 10 minutes or so, all the apps are there like good reader, etc etc.

But, im glad windows phone is growing, because I still cant trust android in the workplace, which is one reason I got a nexus 4, to truly run through all of NATIVE GOOGLE ANDROID and not carrier / manufacture bloat.

On Windows Phone 7 in the Office Hub settings, there was a setting where you could identify a UAG server URL and enter a user name and password.

UAG server (Unified Application Gateway) is a Microsoft SSL VPN product. If your organization deployed a UAG server on the edge, Windows Phone 7 could automatically connect to it and create a VPN tunnel. This made access to SharePoint sites and document libraries very seamless on Windows Phone 7. We are a SharePoint consulting firm and set this solution up for customers who use SharePoint on-premises and have purchased Windows Phone 7 for some of their employees.

These customers are now reporting to us that they have purchased some Windows Phone 8 devices and that they can't find the UAG settings page in the Office Hub settings on Windows Phone 8. Apparently, it has been removed.

So, to make a long story short, Windows Phone 7 *did* support one type of VPN - an SSL VPN using Microsoft UAG server. Unfortunately, it looks like that capability was dropped in Windows Phone 8. That is bad news for enterprises that made an investment in UAG server and would like to use Windows Phone 8.

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