Windows Phone to get business boost with VPN support, encrypted email and more

The feature list of the Windows Phone operating system has always been skewed towards consumers, but that hasn't stopped Microsoft from talking up the value of the platform to business users. Today, Microsoft sought to redress that balance, committing to a broad range of new features designed to boost the appeal of the OS to business and enterprise customers. 

In a post on the Windows Phone Blog, Tony Mestres, vice president of WP partner and channel marketing, announced a new "enterprise feature pack" for Windows Phone 8, intended to offer greater security and improved control for IT departments managing handsets in business environments. 

The feature pack will include: 

  • S/MIME to sign and encrypt email
  • Access to corporate resources behind the firewall with app-aware, auto-triggered VPN
  • Enterprise WiFi support with EAP-TLS
  • Enhanced MDM policies to lock down functionality on the phone for more enterprise control, in addition to richer application management, such as allowing or denying installation of certain apps
  • Certificate management to enrol, update and revoke certificates for user authentication 

Coinciding with this announcement, Microsoft also said that it was extending its support lifecycle for Windows Phone from 18 months to 36 months, a move which is sure to be popular with organisations, as the company itself says: "This gives business customers the confidence to invest in Windows Phone today, with the knowledge that their investments are secure, and the platform is evolving to be an even better choice for business."

The bad news? There's a long wait until the enterprise feature pack is ready - Microsoft says it won't be released until the first half of 2014. It will be delivered "as an update" to the OS, meaning that it could arrive as part of the Windows Phone 8.1 'Blue' update, which is now also expected to launch early next year

Source: Windows Phone Blog

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32 Comments

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WP8 (not 8.1 or "Blue") should have VPN with get go. I am so annoyed at the lack of this feature. I could understand that the WP7.x was a complete rewrite but with WP8 they had plenty of time.

Microsoft does one good thing and then keeps finding way to disappointing customers and letting competition go ahead to play catch up!

Sraf said,
WP8 was a substantial rewrite too, don't forget (A move from WinCE to WinNT)

The very reason I said WP8 should have VPN with get go. I am sure that would have bought a lot of customers.

I know tons of people who wants to move to WP from iPhone or Android and are holding on for just the proper VPN feature. For them rest of the stuff is useless.

wrack said,
WP8 (not 8.1 or "Blue") should have VPN with get go.
Especially if they want to enter a market like China. Not many people with a smartphone in China will accept one that doesn't work with a VPN, since a VPN is required to skirt the GFW to access things like Twitter and Facebook and Youtube.

Nice additions (And I LOVE the expansion of support)... But jiminy crickity are they making us wait for these features (Which we've already been begging for for years)...

M_Lyons10 said,
Nice additions (And I LOVE the expansion of support)... But jiminy crickity are they making us wait for these features (Which we've already been begging for for years)...

It probably comes down to how many people are begging for these versus other feature areas. IT aware users are very vocal, but they (we) do not necessarily represent the majority of users' needs.

Cyborg_X said,
Line about VPN support sounds like no real support.
Love to hear clarification. I sure don't want my VPN on all the time on a power limited device. I only want it on when an app requests or when an endpoint is requested.

M_Lyons10 said,

How so? Sounds like VPN support to me...

App-Aware auto triggered sounds like it will need to be started via a app specifically written for this functionality. This isn't the VPN that users have been asking for this isn't really anything actually...

You won't be able to access your corporate Intranet unless they write a specific app to trigger this VPN, for instance...

LogicalApex said,

App-Aware auto triggered sounds like it will need to be started via a app specifically written for this functionality. This isn't the VPN that users have been asking for this isn't really anything actually...

You won't be able to access your corporate Intranet unless they write a specific app to trigger this VPN, for instance...

"Access to corporate resources behind the firewall with app-aware, auto-triggered VPN". That doesn't seem to me to be limited to a specific app written just for it, auto-triggered could just as well mean that once the phone knows you're at work and finds the corp network then it can kick on VPN without you having to do so.

LogicalApex said,
App-Aware auto triggered sounds like it will need to be started via a app specifically written for this functionality. This isn't the VPN that users have been asking for this isn't really anything actually...

You won't be able to access your corporate Intranet unless they write a specific app to trigger this VPN, for instance...

I'm going to go with... you don't know what you're talking about.

GP007 said,
"Access to corporate resources behind the firewall with app-aware, auto-triggered VPN". That doesn't seem to me to be limited to a specific app written just for it, auto-triggered could just as well mean that once the phone knows you're at work and finds the corp network then it can kick on VPN without you having to do so.
More likely you register an endpoint as requiring a vpn and the system fires that vpn up whenever an address inside the registration is requested.

MrHumpty said,
See your conclusion from the article.

To elaborate means to expand upon the reasoning behind your statements. Obviously, I agree with my statements as I made them...

There is nothing incorrect in my view based on the information MS shared. If the VPN is "app-aware" and "auto-configuring" that means it needs specialized apps and the effect will not be system wide. Traditional VPN has no ability to "auto-configure" and is not "app-aware".

Finally its the least they can do. To me this seems like an order qualifier not an order winner.

I think to spice things up Microsoft should allow companies to add their own personal theme color to their company phones. A lot of providers add their own color as well. So some guys in charge are sensitive to this sort of thing.

Ronnet said,
I think to spice things up Microsoft should allow companies to add their own personal theme color to their company phones. A lot of providers add their own color as well. So some guys in charge are sensitive to this sort of thing.

Would be interesting if additional accent colors (company colors) could be added through Group Policy.

Ronnet said,

I think to spice things up Microsoft should allow companies to add their own personal theme color to their company phones.

So if Apple were to use WP8 phones and added their own corporate theme they'd look just like iPhones then.

"The mobile operator or phone manufacturer may control the distribution of these incremental updates and update availability may also vary by country, region, and device hardware capabilities. "

What has happened to OTA updates?

This is a good start. Hopefully it will be done "right", especially in light of PRISM and God knows how many other vulnerabilities our data has these days.

Hahaiah said,
This is a good start. Hopefully it will be done "right", especially in light of PRISM and God knows how many other vulnerabilities our data has these days.

Well, I would imagine it will have support similar to that of Windows (Since the networking stack and such were part of what they brought over to WP8). Here's hoping anyway. LOL