Analyst: Windows Phone 7 consumer success crucial for enterprise adoption

Analyst: Windows Phone 7 consumer success crucial for enterprise adoption

The new OS has a swathe of consumer features but questions still remain about enterprise features

Microsoft will have no hope of wooing the enterprise market with Windows Phone 7 if it doesn’t gain ground with the OS in the consumer space, according to Gartner mobile and wireless research director, Robin Simpson.

Windows Phone 7 was launched this week and will be publicly available on October 21 on a range of smartphones.

Click here to view the Windows Phone 7 launch slideshow

The new OS uses a simplified tiles system which is similar yet different to Apple’s iPhone OS’ widgets. It is a huge deviation from previous Windows Mobile OSes. Key features include integration with Xbox LIVE, social networking sites and Foxtel.

Simpson said Windows Phone 7 has great potential but its survival will hinge on how reliable it. This is paramount considering the chequered history of the OS’ previous incarnations in terms of consistency across different applications and stability.

Microsoft has cracked down on third-party implementation of the software possibly for quality control.

“The biggest lesson Microsoft has learnt is taking very tight control of the OS and is even taking care of peripheral drivers themselves and not letting third-parties to do them,” Simpson said.

All this is part of Microsoft’s bid to secure confidence for Windows Phone 7 in the consumer market but whether it is successful success won't be determined until several months after the retail launch.

“A lot of people have said this is Microsoft’s last chance at cracking this market,” Simpson said. “The product needs to have terrific reliability and stability in order to make people forget about their past experiences.”

Gaining ground in the consumer market is paramount for the success of Windows Phone 7 in the enterprise space. But enterprise features seem lacking at this stage, according to Simpson.

“The interesting thing is, the OS has to succeed in the consumer market before enterprise will even think about it,” he said. “Clearly from the features available at launch, it’s all about consumer but as an enterprise analyst, I still have some questions about the level of functionality from an enterprise point of view in relation to mobile device management and security.”

So far Microsoft has mainly pushed Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint integration and the ability to edit Office documents as available business functions, which are also available on iPhone and Android platforms.

It is important for enterprises to manage multiple devices with multiple platforms and Microsoft has yet to shed light on what API and program interfaces it will provide third-parties to make mobile device management tools, Simpson said.

“If you think about the history of Apple and iPhone, enterprise certainly didn’t take is seriously in the beginning,” he said. “Apple really spent a couple of years succeeding in the consumer space before it even bothered to do anything to help enterprises to manage and secure the devices.

“Microsoft might be following the same path of releasing enterprise components later.”

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Tags GartnerAndroidwindows phone 7iPhoneSharepointapple iphoneMicrosft Exchange

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