Microsoft builds mobile enterprise case with Surface, Windows Phone 8
Microsoft has had a big week, announcing its entry into the tablet PC race, while also providing a preview of its Windows Phone 8 operating system at its Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco.
Even before it was announced, the software giant's new Surface tablet PC was being seen as product that could receive a lot of attention in the enterprise market. Enterprise IT departments have been looking to apply their vast Windows experience to tablet PCs as tablets have increasingly appeared in the enterprise. Though Apple's iPad has been showing up more frequently under the corporate roof, there is not so much enterprise IT types could do with it, between their own relative inexperience with Apple and Apple's own closed-off attitude to having anyone else tinker with its universe.
Microsoft directly targeted these issues with the announcement of a Surface Pro tablet aimed at the enterprise. Now that the Surface has surfaced, however, enterprise market observers are not as universally excited as the previous expectations seemed to indicate. While its effort has been fairly widely praised, some believe Microsoft's Surface needs to find iPad-like consumer adoption before it begins to gain ground in the enterprise. Also, with the absence of mobile data connectivity in the first-generation Surface tablets, Microsoft will not get much help from carriers pushing the product into their own enterprise accounts.
While the iPad has found success in the enterprise even though Apple does not focus on the enterprise market, vendors with enterprise expertise have not had much success creating their own enterprise tablets. Research in Motion's PlayBook was met with a collective shrug, and the company's broader struggles probably hinder its ability to funding a major marketing hype campaign. Cisco Systems in short order launched and then discontinued its Cius tablet, a product that many market observers said Cisco should not have even attempted. Google, meanwhile, may yet join the tablet race, so Apple is not the only competitor Microsoft needs to worry about in the tablet market.
Meanwhile, Microsoft also formally previewed Windows Phone 8, an operating system that appears to have a lot to offer enterprises with mobility ambitions. It includes native operating system support for video chat and VoIP applications, as well as mobile device management and enterprise security encryption features. Notably, Microsoft announced a "Company Hub" capability to create corporate portals for enterprise users.