New Windows Phone Enterprise Feature Pack Coming in the First Half of 2014

Microsoft extends Windows Phone 8 to 36-month support lifecycle. Announces Windows Phone enterprise feature pack coming in the first half of 2014.

Microsoft extends Windows Phone 8 support until 2016, and wants to make Windows Phone the go-to choice for businesses large and small announced enterprise feature update for 2014.

To that end, Microsoft said today at the WPC, that it will increase the length of the support lifecycle from 18 months to 36 months. "Beginning with Windows Phone 8 we'll make updates, including security updates, available for 36 months," Tony Mestres, vp of Windows Phone partner and channel marketing, writes.

"These updates will be incremental, with each update built on the update that preceded it. 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," Mestres added.

In addition, the company will also release an "enterprise feature pack" as an update to Windows Phone 8 in the first half of 2014. "This feature pack will provide IT departments with more control over Windows Phones and give their employees a fuller productivity experience," Mestres writes.

The pack will bring better support for corporate customers, including auto-VPN, email encryption, and device management controls for IT administrators.

Here is what the enterprise feature pack will include:

  • "S/MIME to sign and encrypt email
  • Access to corporate resources behind the firewall with app aware, auto-triggered VPN
  • Enterprise Wi-Fi support with EAP-TLS
  • Enhanced MDM policies to lock down functionality on the phone for more enterprise control, in addition to richer application manageme," explains the company.

Also, during the conference, Kevin Turner, coo, talked about the software maker's plans for the next 12 months, revealing that updates for the Surface tablets are on their way.

The presentaion slide of Turner shows off updates for Surface RT and Surface Pro.

Microsoft is also planning to equip its Surface RT with a Qualcomm processor and provide users with features such as LTE connectivity, increased speed, and better performance.

In addition, new accessory colors are also likely to be released together with the next-generation Surface and even though details are pretty vague right now, they most likely include new Touch Covers and other peripherals.

Microsoft cuts the pricing of Surface RT to $150, as shown on the Staples website. Curiously, though, it indicates that it will be a limited-time promotion, running only until 20 July.

Microsoft teases update plan for next 12 months

Update 07/12: Microsoft detailed next Windows Phone 8 update dubbed General Distribution Release 2 (GDR2), which will begin rolling out to devices over the next few weeks.

The update will bump up your OS version to 8.0.10327.77 or 8.0.10328.78, depending on the device and mobile operator and will deliver a set of relatively minor fixes and improvements to the OS, including FM radio support and broader availability of its Data Sense feature.

Specific improvements on the way include:

  • "Xbox Music. It's now easier to select, download, and pin music. Plus, music fans will see more accurate metadata (such as song and album information) and many other performance improvements.
  • FM radio. Listen to FM radio right from the Music+Videos hub. (Not available for all phones.)
  • Data Sense. Stay on top of your phone's data usage with Data Sense. You can set a limit based on your data plan, or just keep track of which apps use the most data. (Not all mobile operators offer Data Sense.)
  • Skype. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) apps like Lync and Skype now feature improved stability and performance.
  • Internet Explorer. Your web browsing experience is now better than ever with improved HTML 5 compatibility.
  • Camera. Set your favorite Lens so it opens automatically when you press the camera button. (Not available for all phones.)," reveals Microsoft.

Following this, the next update GDR3, expected to arrive before the holiday season is believed to bring more substantial changes to Windows Phone - including support for quad-core processors and higher-resolution 1080p displays, and some of the "Start screen innovation" that Microsoft promised in its twelve month roadmap - will come when the company delivers the "Blue" update for the platform.

Also, improvements such as enhanced multitasking, a notification center are expected.

This will pave the way for the first 5- and 6-inch Windows Phone phablets, that Microsoft pormised at WPC.

That update, which is likely to take on the Windows Phone 8.1 name, is now not expected until early 2014.

Windows Phone 8 update codenamed "Portico" or General Distribution Release 1, had bumped up mobile OS to 8.0.10211.204, and introduced improvements to messaging, WiFi and Internet Explorer settings.

Update 07/13: Windows Phone Toolkit has everything needed to implement powerful animations that bring your Windows Phone apps to life.

"One of the most beautiful design aspects of the Windows Phone OS is the use of motion design. Windows Phone is alive with motion, which acts as a huge differentiator in quality applications. Unfortunately, motion design can be very painstaking work and difficult to implement," as Microsoft put it.

In this video Shawn Oster walks us through the steps of adding the Windows Phone Toolkit and utilizing the transitions and tilt animations to make your app feel like a native part of the ecosystem.

Also, read this "Inside Windows Phone: Put the Standard Animations in your App" post, which provides step-by-step instructions on using the Windows Phone Toolkit and adding transitions and tilt animations to make your app feel like a natural part of the ecosystem.