Mike HalseyMike Halsey is a Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Press author having written “Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out” and with two Windows 8 books set for release during 2012.  He is a keen supporter of getting things done which is why he uses Windows Phone.

Mike is also a teacher of adult literacy and numeracy basic skills, helping people get a much needed step up in life.  He lives in Yorkshire with his rescue border-collie, Jed. 

Most smartphone platforms these days are designed with consumers in mind. After all, what business wanting its staff to be productive wants a handset that encourages updating Facebook, playing Angry Birds and engaging in online chat?

All the major smartphones are guilty of these including Blackberry which made its name in the business space. Now though, Windows Phone’s latest update, Mango, is changing the way businesses can work with and utilise smartphones.

The previous choices for smartphones in the Enterprise were either the aforementioned Blackberry or the now retired Windows Mobile. When Windows Phone first launched a year ago some features were incomplete, though in Microsoft’s defence they managed to pull the entire platform together from scratch in just 18 months.

I thought I’d detail here for you why I now believe that Windows Phone is the only smartphone platform you should be deploying in your business.

Some of the changes are simple and elegant, such as new threaded email views and direct integration with Office 365. Most business want more server-centric features however and Mango delivers these.

Exchange support has been greatly improved and now offers Information Rights Managed restrictions to be placed on messages, determining what recipients can and cannot do with them once they have been received. Exchange support has been tightened up greatly from the first builds of the Windows Phone OS.

There’s better password support enabling IT administrators to enforce password management through Exchange group policy in the same way as exists on the desktop.

Wireless and VPN network access has been improved with support for hidden and fully configurable networks. Search is automatically extended to your Exchange server as well when you set up an Exchange account on a phone.

Server support is comprehensive with not just with a new generation of content-rich apps, but also a targeted application distribution channel for businesses to push their own bespoke applications to handsets.

Integration with Microsoft’s new communication platform, Lync, is built in along with other links to Office and Server-side features, and the full editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, with the online sync they bring are simply excellent in my view and I use them constantly.

On top of this there are many other improvements in Mango including full support for HTML5, integration with LinkedIn and new richer live tiles bringing the latest and most relevant information directly to the attention of the user.

These are not features offered by other smartphone makers who operate in different ways. Apple’s “buy more apps” approach has left its platform confined to consumers, and Blackberry’s traditional mobile approach has become dated and unpopular with their market share dropping month on month, especially as they try harder to consumerise their platform. Finally Android’s security and malware problems are keeping Google’s OS firmly away from the Enterprise.

With mango, Windows Phone is completely ready for business and with a focus that concentrates on information, productivity and accessibility, and that can be configured for consumer and business-centric environments separately; it stands apart from the competition in my view as being far from a gimmick.

Windows Phone, just one year from its launch is a mature and Enterprise-ready platform that will surprise many as it gains further traction and brings new levels of efficiency to the workplace.

If you would like to read more of Mike’s articles then please visit his website.