When Apple first introduced the iPhone, it didn't support EAS, which was a problem for business but understandable for a device targeted at individual users. (It later added EAS policy support.) But you would think that Microsoft, the creator of EAS, would make sure its own product would be right in line with the existing solutions and policy settings of Exchange. Sadly, it didn't. You cannot enforce the use of complex passwords, and it does not support static IP addresses or VPN connectivity.
When I asked Microsoft to respond, it pointed out all of the EAS things Windows Phone 7 does support, such as remote wipe and SSL-encrypted transmission. And it revealed another oops in the following statement: "Microsoft supports numeric PIN (including 4+ numbers) and complex alphanumeric domain credentials on Windows Phone 7. Microsoft understands that some organizations require alphanumeric PINs and is investigating alphanumeric PIN support for future releases. The company has historically provided and is committed to continue providing a robust set of management and security capabilities to organizations of all sizes. While there aren't any details to share at this time, Microsoft will continue to expand its plans over time."
In other words, if you need those features, you'll have to wait until they add them "over time." When I asked how much time, the response was: "The company is not discussing any additional security measures in depth at this time, but will continue to innovate on the platform."
These security omissions are big issues for some companies, which naturally and rightfully insist on applying their security policies to all devices and, ironically, are probably using Microsoft's own Exchange to do so. It's frustrating when Microsoft isn't supporting its own security solutions in its smartphones.
Although I can respect the long list of features in Windows Phone 7 and don't want to pick at it over a handful of features, these are important and necessary features for the enterprise.
A plea to Microsoft to make a comeback
Regular readers know that I tend to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt; some might even call me a Microsoft loyalist. I admit it. Since my youth, I have worked with Microsoft software, and it has been the basis of a successful career; I will not easily forget that.
Microsoft can't go back in time and make this right. You only get one chance to make a solid first impression. On many levels, Windows Phone 7 does make a good impression, especially on the Samsung Focus. But on some critical levels, it fails, and Microsoft's double-speak nonexplanations don't help.
It is on that basis that I implore the Windows Phone development team to get these issues worked out soon. I had really hoped to rebut the criticisms of Windows Phone 7 made by my colleague Galen Gruman, but I can't. It greatly pains me to have no valid response to these shortcomings. Considering that this is Microsoft's second time at bat in the mobile market and that the company is fifth to market in the smartphone era, this phone should be making positive headlines about more than just its interface.
My hope is that although it's been a tough first round for Windows Phone 7, the smartphone battle's bell has not yet rung. I look forward to round two, where hopefully the platform will pull a comeback and get my full thumbs-up.
This article, "Windows Phone 7 leaves a Microsoft fan in angst," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com.