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Microsoft pushes Windows Phone 8 enterprise benefits

31 Oct 2012
Windows Phone 8 launch

Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 platform looks like having greater appeal to enterprise users than its predecessor, with better support for security and management, as well as some measure of app compatibility with Windows on the PC and tablets, the firm claims.

The latest version of Microsoft's smartphone platform was unveiled in a blaze of publicity this week, but while most of the attention was on the social networking support and other consumer features, Windows Phone 8 also has a lot of changes under the hood that are likely to prove of interest to business users.

With Windows Phone 8, handsets can now be brought under administrator control using System Centre Mobile Device Manager (SC MDM), allowing firms to apply policies to user devices via their Active Directory infrastructure.

Alternatively, smaller companies can manage email and access policies via an Exchange server using the Exchange ActiveSync protocol, Microsoft said.

Applications can also be pushed out automatically to a user's handset via an organisation's own private Enterprise Marketplace app store, with each user's Active Directory credentials specifying which applications they ought to have for their role.

Security is also beefed up in Windows Phone 8 at both the operating system level and the application level in order to defeat malware, Microsoft's Richard Warren, UK technical solutions professional for Windows Phone, told V3.

"Sandboxing is strong in this version of Windows Phone, so apps can only access their own memory area. Signing of the apps also ensures that an app will not be executed if any part of the code has been changed," he said.

This signing has also been extended to the entire platform, he added, so that if malware somehow manages to inject itself into the operating system, it changes the signature and the handset will not boot.

"This isn't as disastrous as it sounds, as there is a recovery process that can restore the operating system to its original state," Warren said.

The Secure Boot process is enabled by the SecureMSM feature in Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 system-on-a-chip (SoC), the processor that currently powers all Windows Phone 8 devices.

This serves the same functions as a trusted platform module (TPM) on a PC, and also provides for hardware-accelerated encryption of all data stored in the phone's memory (but not on flash storage cards).

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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