Many businesses these days allow employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to a new job. In these situations and in many others, protecting corporate data can be essential. To help companies with mobile device management (MDM) Office 365 will be rolling out MDM capabilities.
As outlined by the Office Blog, these capabilities will come at “no additional cost in all Office 365 commercial plans, including Business, Enterprise, EDU and Government plans.” They’ll be progressively rolled out over the next 4-6 weeks. There are five features outlined in the blog post. There’s also a video breaking them down.
“Help secure and manage corporate resources:” This allows corporations to ensure that emails and documents are only accessible on devices managed by their company.
“Apply mobile device settings:” These allow companies to have “device level pin lock” and “jailbreak detection.” This is especially useful if a device containing corporate information is stolen or lost.
“Perform a selective wipe of Office 365 data:” This is especially useful if an employee leaves a job. It allows companies to delete only Office 365 information that is from their company while leaving personal data untouched.
“Preserve Office 365 productivity experience:” This isn’t a new feature as much as a preservation of existing features. The MDM features are built into other “productivity apps” so employees don’t have to use new applications.
“Manage policies with ease:” This allows admins to implement “device policies directly from within the Office 365 administration portal.” It also allows them to “View reports on which devices are connected to Office 365 and identify devices that have been blocked due to non-compliance.”
These features being included as part of already existing commercial plans is a good example of Microsoft’s business strategy. The MDM capabilities are powered by Microsoft Intune and serve as a springboard to sell more premium Intune features.
Despite these capabilities being useful to corporations there is currently an all too familiar problem. Windows Phone, or in this case the OneDrive for Business and the Office Mobile apps for Windows Phone, are not yet supported, while they are on both iOS and Android (for phones).
The Office Blog post has a Q & A section at the end and states “We provide ActiveSync support for device policy, conditional access and selective wipe for Windows Phone and tablets. We will extend these capabilities to Windows Phone Office apps in the future.”
Because Microsoft is a massive corporation it is somewhat understandable to not have every single service perfectly locked in step with each other but for something like this it seems unreasonable. Microsoft has a gigantic set of corporate partners but it’s hard to sell them on Windows Phone if Office 365 features on iOS and Android aren’t available on Microsoft’s own mobile platform.