Emperor’s new screen

If MDM is all about easy management of devices, why couldn’t it have been made to manage earlier devices, too? If Exchange Server can manage pre-6.1 devices, I’m sure MDM could have been engineered to do the same. I appreciate that “if you upgrade product A you’ll also need to upgrade products B and C” is the Microsoft way – and the cunning strategy that helped to make Bill Gates rich – but this is pushing things too far: Microsoft really can’t be expecting every enterprise to upgrade all of its phones to versions that will work with MDM.

Emperor's new screen

The other area that’s important for corporate users is a much-improved web browser experience in WM 6.1. Actually, it isn’t in 6.1 – at least not in the initial release – this new improved web browser won’t be along until the end of 2008. There are a few browser tweaks in the initial release, but what’s coming at the end of the year is far more radical. Essentially, it will be a copy of the desktop Internet Explorer 6, redeployed onto the mobile platform. Since it’s a full-blown browser, it will be able to do all kinds of Web 2.0 stuff as well as running Flash, Silverlight and the like.

I must admit to being slightly surprised that it’s IE6-based rather than IE7 (or even IE8), but a slightly older version is certainly better than nothing. A Microsoft spokesman told me it chose IE6 because that’s the most popular desktop browser right now, but I’m not convinced by that – and even so, by the end of 2008 when this new mobile browser arrives, I don’t expect IE6 to still be dominant on the desktop. I did hear a rumour that Microsoft had to go with IE6 since that will run on the typical 400MHz processor of a modern WM device, whereas IE7 was designed from the ground up for a CPU with more grunt, and that sounds a bit more plausible to me.

It will be interesting to see how well the new browser runs on 6.1 mobiles (and particularly how fast), and whether web applications targeted at desktop users will be usable on a smartphone-sized screen. What with the forthcoming Mobile Firefox and the brilliant – if slightly quirky – Opera Mini and Opera Mobile, I reckon we’re headed for a bit of a mobile browser war, which is both a good and bad thing – good inasmuch as it will stimulate competition, but bad for mobile website and online application producers because of the increased work needed to support these various platforms.

What other new things in WM 6.1 will appeal to a typical PC Pro reader? For some of you it will be the welcome return of the Bluetooth DUN profile removed in WM 6 – a move that I know upset quite a few people. Well, just as you’ve had to make alternative arrangements and have probably become used to a new way of working, the profile has returned! There’s another neat Bluetooth feature in WM 6.1, namely that when you try to pair the phone with something like a GPS dongle or hands-free kit that has a fixed PIN, the operating system will cycle through a set of common codes (0000, 1234, 8888 and so on) to try to find the right one. There remains a nagging worry at the back of my mind that too many failed attempts might cause certain devices to lock out, but overall I think this should work well and might save a few helpdesk support calls.

The direct push mechanism that’s used to sync with Exchange Server has been optimised, and Microsoft reckons this will reduce the bandwidth requirements by about 60% (almost approaching BlackBerry territory), and perhaps more significantly will improve battery life by about 33%. But – so typical of a Microsoft enhancement – there are strings attached: the enterprise needs to be running Exchange Server 2007 with SP1 applied. For those not using push email there are useful bandwidth optimisations in the POP3 and IMAP clients, too.

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos