Microsoft extends Windows Phone 8 support lifecycle, will add enterprise features to grab business users
On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that it will extend the Windows Phone 8 support lifecycle to three years, effectively doubling the previous 18 month time-frame, which was revealed in mid-March.
"Beginning with Windows Phone 8 we'll make updates, including security updates, available for 36 months", says Microsoft's Tony Mestres. "These updates will be incremental, with each update built on the update that preceded it". So far so good. But now here comes the kicker -- your device may or may not receive the future software upgrades.
Mestres says that: "The mobile operator or phone manufacturer may control the distribution of these incremental updates and update availability may also vary by country, region, and device hardware capabilities". Taking into account the fact that Microsoft screwed Windows Phone 7 users from receiving the upgrade to the current iteration of the tiled smartphone operating system, this is not overly reassuring for current and future customers.
Microsoft also announced that Windows Phone 8 will receive an enterprise feature pack update, which arrives in "the first half of 2014", that is designed to "provide IT departments with more control over Windows Phones and give their employees a fuller productivity experience".
The enterprise feature pack includes S/MIME, certificate management for enrolling, updating and revoking user authentication certificates, beefed up MDM policies, enterprise Wi-Fi support (that comes with EAT-TLS) and behind the firewall access to corporate networks with app-aware and auto-triggered VPN.
Microsoft says that the extended support lifecycle coupled with the future enterprise feature pack are designed to establish Windows Phone 8 as a viable platform for business users. The targeted folks, at least at the moment, prefer Android handsets and iPhones to smartphones running the tiled operating system. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft's latest efforts can tip the scale in its favor.