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So an iPhone user tries out Windows Phone 8.1...

Ryan Faas | May 9, 2014
...and comes away impressed by Microsoft's latest mobile OS.

Similar levels of integration are offered for other common third-party accounts. The message seems clear: Microsoft would rather you use its services exclusively, and the user experience is weighted to encourage this. But it acknowledges the need to support the ecosystems of its rivals to some degree because it's in a distant third place in both the consumer and business markets.

Windows Phone's competition in the enterprise
Beyond the user experience, Microsoft has some particularly potent advantages in the race for market share in the business world. The biggest is the company's decision to share code across its platforms. This has real significance for enterprise app developers because they can reuse code across Windows 8.x desktop and tablet applications as well as Windows Phone apps and can use the same set of developer tools. That's a powerful incentive for an organization to encourage Windows Phone adoption.

The other advantage is in integration with both new and established Microsoft technology and infrastructure. One of the things that makes the company's EMS proposition so attractive is that it allows IT professionals to use the same tools to manage mobile devices that they use to manage PCs. For organizations that haven't invested in EMS, this could be quite an attractive way to go.

Although Microsoft has advantages, it's difficult to see Windows Phone displacing the iPhone as the corporate or BYOD device of choice in the near term. In most markets, Windows Phone has a minimal market share (though adoption is higher in Europe than the U.S.) and, according to some reports, the platform may have actually lost some market share.

Apple's smartphone market share, on the other hand, is signficant (albeit behind Android in most markets) and the company has been steadily gaining ground. Under Tim Cook's tenure as CEO, Apple has come to focus more and more on the needs of its enterprise customers — both the individual users and the IT professionals that support them.

With iOS 7, the company signficantly ratcheted up its management and security capabilities, created a new mobile app licensing mechanism, and, in iOS 7.1, introduced a volume configuration and deployment model. That model allows IT to bulk enroll and manage iPhones and iPads without needing to physically work with each device. The company also recently released additional enterprise deployment and security guides for IT teams.

The Email and Accounts section of Windows Phone 8.1 (dark theme).

More recently, Apple highlighted the diversity of enterprise apps in major enterprise companies including Deutsche Bank, Siemens, Eli Lilly and FedEx, each of which had created a dozen or more enterprise iOS apps for employees. That's no small investment and it will almost certainly encourage companies that have adopted iOS to continue to view the platform as their primary mobile OS.


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