Much of Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) pitch for Windows 8, its first operating system built for tablets as well as its traditional PCs, is about the superior integration that IT organizations can achieve by using a Windows tablet, a Windows PC and a Windows phone. Executives, knowledge workers, field workers and others can access their documents, stored on SkyDrive, wherever they are on whatever device they are using, and the operating system and applications look the same. It's a compelling argument.
Microsoft is pushing this OS hard after some missteps in recent years and some enormous gains by rivals such as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). To further position Windows 8's strength against solutions from these and other vendors, Microsoft has built mobile device management features into Windows Phone 8. The company gave developers a first look at those during its developer summit in San Francisco in June.
- Among those MDM features Microsoft designed into the OS to help IT organizations are the following:
- The ability to manage apps and phones remotely with tools similar to those they already use for Windows PCs,
- Built-in BitLocker technology to encrypt the entire device including operating system and data files,
- The ability to create a Windows Phone 8 Hub for assignment and deployment of line-of-business applications,
- Support for the United Extensible Firmware Interface secure boot protocol so the phone is better protected from malware with multiple layers of security.
These features certainly make Windows Phone 8 more competitive. But even if there are IT departments that standardize on smartphones based on this OS, it's unlikely that they'll be able to pry the iPads out of executives' hands. In any multi-device environment it makes more sense to also go with a tool that can provide mobile device management to all the devices, regardless of manufacturer or brand.
Sure, Microsoft's MDM features and Apple's MDM features can help. Indeed, MDM and RMM vendors are working on integrations with technologies such as Apple's Configurator. But it takes a vendor who is not the device or OS maker to fully support the range of devices coming onto the corporate network today. Microsoft can't do it alone. Apple can't do it alone. The devices on today's business networks have become much more diverse, and managing them all from a single tool is essential.