Rikke Rasmussen Windows Phone Marketing Manager, Microsoft UK.
“The new Windows Phone 7 looks really fun - but is it up to the job of helping us run our business? It’s got a visually highly appealing interface, but will it be effective for our employees or will all the consumer features get in the way? - Ian
Answer: Hi Ian. The recent severe weather conditions are a reminder to all midsize and high-growth companies of the need to manage disruptions effectively. An important weapon in the business continuity armoury is the ubiquity of ‘anywhere, anytime’ communications tools. Moreover, if your prosperity depends on an army of ‘road warriors’, you’ll already appreciate the importance of equipping your dispersed workforce with flexible mobile technology.
So let me first reassure you that the consumer glitz surrounding the launch of Windows Phone 7 will in no way impair its effectiveness as a business tool. By adding it to our portfolio, we’re simply addressing the needs of a modern workforce with both busy personal and business lives who want a single device to deliver rich, end-to-end experiences - and navigate effortlessly between work and play.
Demand for smartphones that play as hard as they work is fuelling growth in new device purchases, with analyst IDC projecting 31% growth in the smartphone market this year and another 22% in 2011.
Yet our own research also tells us that over 90% of our target customers for Windows Phone use their smartphone for business and 61% use their phones equally or more for business than personal use. Now that most of us interact with digital content every day, we have growing expectations for the range and quality of experiences available to us. In business particularly, people increasingly expect more than a palm-size workstation from their phones.
In other words, users want an engaging and natural mobile experience, but business-ready access to Microsoft software and services.
Versatile productivity tool
We’ve therefore gone out of our way to make Windows Phone 7 a more versatile and accessible productivity tool than its predecessors whilst maintaining a great user experience and reducing complexity. Our aim is to help midsize businesses like yours to squeeze more out of existing IT investments. For instance:
- The Office Hub provides a smart new user interface that works with the Microsoft tools you’re already familiar with, to bring everything together in one place. It means you can now save time by viewing and editing documents in Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, then sync them between phone and PC.
- Without leaving the Hub, you can also access and sync documents from OneNote and SharePoint sites - with full offline access
- Office Mobile programs on Windows Phone 7 offer similar features to those in their desktop versions.
By integrating all these features with rich email, calendar and contacts in a mobile platform that supports business programs, we aim to help midsize companies like yours increase their productivity.
Secure and future-ready
I appreciate also that a key concern for many midsize organisations is mobile security. With Windows Phone 7, that’s not a problem because it provides secure access to on-premise programs and network resources using Microsoft’s Forefront Universal Access Gateway (UAG). In addition, you can remotely lock or wipe devices that are lost or stolen. You can also manage IT policies, including device PIN requirements using Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync technology.
If you’re going to invest in Windows Phone 7 for business use, you’re going to want to know that (unlike some phone and online services which simply suddenly disappear), the platform is robust and here for good. We’re committed to continuing to improve and evolve the Windows Phone 7 platform, and Windows Phone 7 is ‘future ready’ for integration with Microsoft cloud services. It will not only support mobile access to the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) from Outlook Mobile and the Office Hub, but also hosted Exchange and SharePoint services, plus Skydrive for remotely storing data. UAG is therefore your secure gateway to a wealth of online enterprise-grade services.Windows Phone 7 is also the most exhaustively tested mobile platform we have ever released, with over eleven million hours of testing across over 10,000 devices.
Best of both worlds
In conclusion, with Windows Phone 7 we've looked again at everything Microsoft does and pulled the best of all of it together - the best of Xbox for consumers and the best of Office for business users.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that many midsize businesses don’t yet have all their employees using laptops. It’s much easier for them to acquire phones, because of the way operators cross-fund hardware against contracts. The availability of Windows Phone 7 means you can now give your staff a phone to mobilise them - and still let them access documents and get a rich Office experience.
But I’ll leave the final word to PCWorld magazine’s David Coursey who’s been writing about technology products for more than 25 years. He says: “One thing is certain - all of today's other smartphone user interfaces look pretty staid by comparison.”
What others are saying about the Windows Phone 7
"We found ‘easier’ to be an understatement with Windows Phone 7. With the right back end, access to SharePoint is a breeze. And it would certainly draw people into using SharePoint more when access to documents is that easy from a phone. Windows Phone 7 could be to SharePoint what iPod was to iTunes." Gary Cooper, IT Change and Analysis, E.ON.
"Windows Phone 7 provides a fun and exciting user experience with many unique elements, and we were impressed with its unique user interface. For example, iFood Assistant users can browse through our recipes in different ways: vertical and through the pivot filtering. This enables quick access to other categories in a highly organised fashion. And the dynamic panorama user interface makes our food images come alive, appear fresh, which is aligned with our mission of delivering delicious inspiration." Edward J. Kaczmarek III, Director of Innovation, Consumer Experiences, Kraft.