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Why Windows 10 Mobile matters for business

Mary Branscombe | Dec. 8, 2015
Microsoft’s first Windows 10 phones are shipping, even though Windows 10 isn’t quite finished. These flagship devices may be priced too high for general business use, but they have some intriguing new features that may have significant business advantages.

There are lots of ways to connect mobile apps to your company data. What’s so interesting about Cortana is the pro-active reminders. If you have an upcoming meeting, Cortana will track any travel you have booked and warn you when you need to leave to arrive on time, based on traffic or transit schedules. But she also collates documents you’ve shared with the people you’re meeting, details of other people you’re connected to at their company (using the Office Graph), and other relevant information that might make your meeting more useful.

Cortana is also a good interface for exploring data using natural questions (like ‘what was the best-selling product last week?’). Microsoft has shown how that would work with Power BI – which has its own natural language query tool where you can type in exactly those kinds of questions and get a table or a graph of the information) – and you can use the Cortana Analytics Suite to integrate multiple data repositories into a system that Cortana can mine for trends and suggestions.

Because Cortana is already syncing information between your devices through the notebook of interests and connections, this is also the way Microsoft offers unified messaging between PCs and phones in Windows 10. That covers more than the Skype integration that lets you make voice and video calls from the same dialler; it means you’ll be able to see and reply to text messages on your phone, from your PC.

Universal but not everywhere

For iOS, you can create an app that runs on iPhone and iPad, but you’ll have to make a different app for Mac and PC users. If you’re building your own apps, Windows 10 Mobile has the advantage that the same app will run on a Windows 10 desktop, laptop, tablet and phone. The Universal Windows Platform replaces both “modern” Windows 8 apps built with WinRT and the Windows Phone 8 apps built with Silverlight, which developers could combine into a single project with a development platform where the same code runs on all devices, but the user sees an interface designed for their screen size. (Existing Windows Phone apps will run on Windows 10 Mobile, but not on PCs.)

If you want to offer your users a consistent app, having them on Windows 10 for PCs and phones could cut your development time. For cloud storage service Box, designing a single app that would run on both PCs and phones was an attractive alternative to maintaining two codebases and two interfaces.

Virgin Atlantic was looking for a way to get business travellers excited about the idea of flying in their Upper Class cabin, in a way “that didn’t require the same scale investments as our competitors” explains Reuben Arnold, Virgin’s senior vice president for Marketing and Customer Experience. They wanted to build a system they could use at tradeshows or retail locations, to let people see and feel what’s different about travelling on the airline.

 

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