This week I had the opportunity to present and attend TechDays. I was talking to people and doing demos with WP7. It was a very interesting experience, I spoke with people who had different concerns and questions then the regular smart-phone user. I was used to people comparing WP7 to shiny iPhone and Android devices but here I found many people comparing to Blackberry. The folks at TechDays consisted of developers and IT professionals, they wanted to know about Exchange ActiveSync, Office integration, VPN, and RDP applications.
I tried to answer the questions as best I could. I have never used Blackberry or any smart-phone for business use.
Here is just a short recap of some of the enterprise goodies in WP7.
It was so easy to set up an Outlook account on my personal phone. You basically just need to enter your company email address and password. If the domain of your address is the same as the domain your exchange server is on then you are done. However, in my case we have different .com addresses from our .net domain. So, WP7 could not find my exchange endpoint, and needed my domain name to continue. I still did not need to enter the external location of our exchange server.
Once you setup your Outlook account in the phone not only do you get email and contacts, you also get calendar integration. In the colander application you can set different colors for your Outlook and MSN, or Google calendars. With WP7 you can view all your work and personal appointments in one place. It is fantastic. Also, if someone sends you a meeting request via email and it is conflicting with another meeting you can see what the conflict is in your calendar by just selecting it in the email.
This is something I have not tried myself yet, but the SharePoint document manager link in WP7 is very similar to the SkyDrive document link. You can sync your documents to a central server, and you are informed that you are not working with the latest document when you open it. This is part of the Office Hub on the WP7 device. When you open an office document from an email attachment you are also taken to the Office Hub to edit that document, then you can share it right back to the sender after making your update.
Some of the not so good things
As far as I know there is no way to deploy a WP7 application to members of your organization. The WP Marketplace seems to be the only distribution channel currently. I assume since they do have functionality in the Marketplace for carrier and manufacturer specific applications, it won’t take much to implement another restriction on either domain, or something deeper in the device registry.
There is no VPN capability on WP7 currently. This was one of the main concerns for business users that are currently using the Blackberry platform. I have not heard yet if this will be part of this January update or not.
Likely there are more points that I could talk about or have forgotten about. I may edit this post later.
But for now I leave you with a link to a great TechNet Edge session filmed at TechEd Europe that outlines some of the enterprise functionality of WP7