Windows Phone 8.1 for Business


Following on from the consumer features (many of which will still be of use to corporate users), here is a post that looks more at the specific business features.

Mobile Device Management

Windows Phone 8.1 has a built-in MDM client that allows IT organizations to manage devices with the management system of choice, such as Windows Intune, MobileIron, Citrix, SAP and Sophos.

Microsoft have made it easier to enrol devices into these solutions, which reduces time & costs for the customer. Once enrolled, the IT admin can fully manage the device including:

  • Configuration policies
  • Email or Office 365 accounts
  • Certificates for user authentication
  • VPN and Wi-Fi profiles
  • Apps

Platform Convergence

Over 90% of APIs are shared between Windows Phone 8.1 & Windows 8.1 Update. This makes developing apps for both platforms so much easier for business development teams. They no longer need to choose/prioritize on over the other and can create them all in the same environment.

This move makes it:

  • Easier
  • Quicker
  • Cheaper
  • More cost effective

for business to develop apps for Microsoft’s platforms.

Security

Windows Phone 8.1 can:

  • Utilize remote business data removal if a device is lost/stolen
  • Implement secure & trusted boot
  • Better sandbox app to prevent rootkits & malware

 

Email Encryption

S/MIME, the industry standard for email encryption, is now supported with WP8.1. Managed via Exchange or an MDM system, this allows users to sign & encrypt mail directly from their device.

Assigned Access

Use this to lock a handset to running just one app. If you have users who need to be mobile but just need to perform one dedicated task, using a lower cost handset with this features enables cost savings and security.

Enhanced App Management

Organizations can, via an Enterprise account, privately & securely distribute apps to WP8.1 handsets. These apps can be updated, removed – even defined as mandatory.

Orgs can also whitelist/blacklist apps and even block the store completely if required.

Certificate Management

This allows IT pros to enrol, renew, and revoke certificates for user authentication. These can be used to authenticate against:

  • Exchange Server
  • An Intranet Web Server
  • VPN
  • Wi-Fi
  • Line-Of-Business (LOB) applications.

Advanced certificate management is available so certificates are protected by the built-in TPM enabling Virtual Smartcard on Windows Phone.

Enterprise VPN & Wi-Fi

Windows Phone 8.1 includes app-specific VPNs, supporting IPsec & SSL VPN gateways. The VPN functionality is supported by many major vendors such as:

  • CheckPoint
  • Dell/SonicWall
  • F5
  • Juniper

which will make integration into corporate networks even easier.

Also, Enterprise Wi-Fi with EAP-TLS and EAP-TTLS will allow the employee to connect to the corporate Wi-Fi network, also managed with the MDM system; with Wi-Fi offloading using WI-Fi wherever possible to reduce data costs.

To see more of these features, and also those in Windows 8.1, check out this Windows blog:

http://blogs.windows.com/windows/b/business/archive/2014/04/02/building-the-mobile-workplace-with-windows-and-windows-phone.aspx

Windows Phone 8.1 for Consumers


At Build 2014, Joe Belfiore and co. announced a number of new features coming in Windows Phone 8.1, for both consumer & business users.

These features include:

Start Screen personalization

The ability to have any picture you like as the background to your Start Screen, with the tiles becoming transparent to show it through.

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Cortana

The Digital Assistant, named after a Halo character, is set to pitch some interesting battles against Apple’s Siri.

Cortana is the only digital assistant that gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something.

The US will get it as a beta almost straight away with it then rolling out to the UK & China in the 2nd half of 2014, with other countries to follow in 2015.

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Cortana will do things such as:

  • Remind you of upcoming flights
  • Tell you when to leave for the airport – based on live traffic info
  • Block non-essential calls/texts etc. during user set “Quiet Hours”
  • Give reminders based on location
  • Track weather, stocks etc
  • Interact with 3rd party apps – use Cortana to tweet, to watch TV shows on your device, call in Skype and more.

Action Center

Giving a central location to see notifications from ALL apps as well as easy access to settings such as Bluetooth, Wifi etc.

Word Flow Keyboard

Similar to the Swype keyboard, a quicker, more intelligent keyboard for typing in WP8.1. This was used to break the World Record (held by Swype on a Galaxy S4) by 8 seconds!

Calendar

The calendar in WP up to now has been functional, but not quite there and I’ve heard many complaints about it’s ease of use (or lack thereof). Microsoft have heard that and completely redesigned the calendar experience. It has things such as:

  • Week View
  • Pan right to move to the next day/week/month
  • Integrated weather

and more

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Internet Explorer 11 for Windows Phone

Synchronization between devices means you’ll be able to see all your open tabs and favourites across all your devices. It also gives:

  • InPrivate Browsing
  • Password caching
  • Reading Mode

Password caching will be great, I’m so used to that on my Windows 8.1 devices that it’s always a shock when I’m asked for a password on my phone!

Additional Features:

Burst Mode added to standard camera

Data Sense “High Savings” mode which increases compression of web images to reduce data usage.

Wi-Fi Sense connects to free open hotspots automatically to reduce data usage. You can use Cortana to turn this option on only in your favourite areas.

Storage Sense helps manage content such as apps, music & photos on SD cards and also help with transferring such things between the card and the phone.

Battery Saver improvements can now “dramatically extend your battery life”.

Microsoft Account Sync – Apps you purchase on your Windows Phone will also appear on your Windows 8 device (and vice versa – if the app supports both platforms of course). Also sync your theme colour across devices as well as your home Wi-Fi password.

Project your phone – connect it to a PC via USB and you can show the phone on there. SOME new WP8.1 devices will support Miracast for wireless projection to compatible devices.

To see more on these features, head over to:

http://blogs.windows.com/windows_phone/b/windowsphone/archive/2014/04/02/cortana-yes-and-many-many-other-great-features-coming-in-windows-phone-8-1.aspx

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite


Microsoft have released further info about the Enterprise Mobility Suite and how it will be licensed.

“Businesses can add Enterprise Mobility Suite to any user or device with active Software Assurance on CoreCAL, ECAL, or BridgeCAL for Microsoft Office 365.”

A big point of EMS is that it offers bundle pricing, making it cheaper for organizations to grab all this Cloud goodness.

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Download the datasheet here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/enterprise-mobility-suite/buy.aspx#fbid=GoFMyywgvz8

Thanks, as ever, to Licensing School for the heads up on the datasheet.

Enterprise Mobility Suite


Satya Nadella didn’t just announce Office for iPad yesterday, he also announced the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS).

The capabilities packaged in the EMS are a giant step beyond simple MDM. The EMS is a people-first approach to identity, devices, apps, and data – and it allows you to actively build upon what you already have in place while proactively empowering your workforce well into the future.

The EMS has three key elements:

  • Identity and access management delivered by Azure Active Directory Premium
  • MDM and MAM delivered by Windows Intune
  • Data protection delivered by Azure AD Rights Management Services

What do these bits do?

Azure AD Premium is packed with features that save IT teams time and money, for example:

  • It delivers group management and self-service password reset – dramatically cutting the time/cost of helpdesk calls.
  • It provides pre-configured single sign on to more than 1,000 popular SaaS applications so IT can easily manage access for users with one set of credentials.
  • To improve visibility for IT and security, it includes security reporting to identify and block threats (e.g. anomalous logins) and require multi-factor authentication for users when these abnormalities are detected.

Windows Intune is Microsofts cloud-based MDM and PC management solution.

Since its launch we have regularly delivered updates to this service at a cloud cadence. In October 2013 and January 2014 we added new capabilities like e-mail profile management for iOS, selective wipe, iOS 7 data protection configuration, and remote lock and password reset.

Following up on these new features, in April we will also be adding more Android device management with support for the Samsung KNOX platform, as well as support for the upcoming update to Windows Phone.

Microsoft Azure Rights Management is a powerful and easy-to-use way for organizations to protect their critical information when it is at rest or in transit.

This service is already available today as part of Office 365, and Microsoft recently added extended capability for existing on-prem deployments. Azure RMS now supports the connection to on-prem Exchange, SharePoint, and Windows Servers.

For example, if an employee leaves an organization or if a document is accidentally sent to the wrong individual, the company’s data is protected because there is no way for the recipient to open the file.

The Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) will be available via Microsoft’s Enterprise Volume Licensing programs from May 1st.

See more info here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/in_the_cloud/archive/2014/03/27/enterprise-mobility-for-every-business-and-every-device.aspx

Office for iPad


 

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BOOM – it’s here…Word, Excel & PowerPoint FOR THE IPAD!

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Office for iPad uses a “Freemium” model. It is free to download the app, free to view and present with – to create and/or edit, you will need an Office 365 subscription.

The differences between free & paid are:

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Q: What Office 365 subscription plans include Office for iPad?

A:

  • Office 365 Home
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium
  • Office 365 Midsize Business
  • Office 365 E3 and E4 (Enterprise and Government)
  • Office 365 Education A3 and A4
  • Office 365 ProPlus
  • Office 365 University

The new Office 365 Personal will also qualify when it becomes available later this spring.

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite Rumour


Rumours abound that Microsoft are set to make 2 announcements at tomorrow’s (27/03/14) web conference:

1) Office for iPad

2) Enterprise Mobility Suite

Office for iPad is a big one, that’s been talked about for a long while, and is a tricky thing to consider. On one hand, there are millions of people with iPads who will surely buy Office – bringing in significant revenue to Redmond. On the other hand, does Office on iPad weaken the Windows tablet message somewhat?

I don’t think it does, Office isn’t the only benefit of a Windows tablet – but I can see it being a question MS will need to address.

The second point is a newer rumour – the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS). According to ZDNet, this will be a bundle of:

  • Windows Intune
  • Azure Active Directory Premium (a new offering)
  • Azure Rights Management Services

This would enable organizations to easily manage 1000’s of devices – Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone as well as iOS & Android – with features such as self service password reset, group management and more.

Source – ZDnet: http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-to-unveil-enterprise-mobility-suite-alongside-office-for-ipad-7000027717/

SQL 2014 Release Date


Microsoft have announced that SQL Server 2014 has been RTM’d (Released To Manufacturing) and will be generally available from April 1st.

SQL 2014 brings a host of new and improved features, particularly around Business Intelligence and Cloud computing.

  • In-memory transaction processing (In-Memory OLTP), speeds up an already very fast experience by delivering speed improvement of up to 30x.
  • Customers do not have to rewrite their application or deploy new servers. We approached in-memory columnstore the same way – it is built into SQL Server.
  • Customers can easily and securely backup and recover on-premises SQL Server databases using Windows Azure
  • SQL Server 2014’s AlwaysOn technology was not just improved for this release, it was built to enroll Windows Azure virtual machines running SQL Server into a customers’ disaster recovery solution.

You can read more about this release here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/18/sql-server-2014-released-to-manufacturers-will-be-generally-available-april-1.aspx?WT.mc_id=Blog_SQL_RTM_SQL14

Windows 8.1 Enterprise Upgrade


One of the fundamentals of MS licensing has been changed. It’s always been the case that:

“the only way to get Windows Enterprise is to buy Pro + SA”

Well not anymore!

As of March 2014, there is a standalone Windows 8.1 Enterprise SKU available via Volume Licensing.

Why?

This means organizations who can’t/won’t enter into an agreement with Software Assurance can now benefit from things such as:

  • Direct Access
  • AppLocker
  • Windows To Go

and more

Other SA benefits are not effected so things such as:

  • New Version Rights
  • MDOP
  • Virtualization

etc. are still only available with SA.

What else has changed?

It is now ONLY possible to attached SA to the Enterprise Upgrade SKU.

This takes away one relatively common practise. Organizations would often buy machines with Windows Pro OEM and then attach Windows SA within 90 days. This is no longer possible as SA can be attached only to Enterprise – and that won’t come pre-loaded on machines.

If you bought the OEM devices before July 1st 2014, you still have the 90 days to purchase SA. Once that date passes, it will no longer be possible.

Power BI General Availability


Business Intelligence is an ever growing area and I think it will continue to grow for quite some time. Taking note of the data you have, analysing it and making decisions based on it is becoming more and more prevalent – think what Billy Beane has been doing at the A’s for years, what Bill James does with the Red Sox, look at how Opta stats have become such a huge thing within premier league football…all these are examples of business intelligence.

The old way:

The new way:

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I’m amazed at some of the things that are being done with Power Bi, especially combined with Excel 2013! The opportunity for organizations to become so much smarter with how and what they’re doing is huge – the fact that it’s cloud based so allows access from anywhere is a big deal, especially with the Windows 8 & RT apps AND HTML5 support.

It’s available now so pricing is in the pricefiles – to see some of the things you can do with Power BI, head over to:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/powerbi/default.aspx#fbid=rZ1xycdtZvO

Windows Intune & Power BI coming to Open Licensing


In a very encouraging move, Microsoft have announced that, from April 1st 2014, customers will be able to purchase both Windows Intune through the Open licensing program.

Currently Intune is available only via the MS portal but will now sit alongside Office 365 (and soon Power BI too) on the regular pricelists.

See more here:

http://www.digitalwpc.com/Community/Perspectives/Pages/Windows-Intune-and-Power-BI-coming-to-Open-Volume-Licensing.aspx?fbid=-jjTmFnB-aO&mtag=mbar-twitter&mtag=mbar-linkedin#fbid=PVSRpLQGbVC

Hat tip to Licensing School for finding this.