So, I’ve been having to work with a client on getting her new Windows Phone 7 connected to her corporate network and be able to access her corporate email account.
Let’s just start off by saying I kinda like the new WP7 interface. The more I work with her phone, the more I like it. I’m still very partial to my WP6.5 Professional phone, but the WP7 does have a nice look to it.
Okay, that being said, I can’t really say much more because it’s not my phone and I can’t play with it all that much to see how I really like it.
What I can say is that I’m none too thrilled by some of the things I’ve discovered. Let’s start with wireless network settings.
You expect a phone that can connect to a wireless signal should and would be able to do so. Even if you have to input the security key to connect (which should be a one time thin), that shouldn’t be a put off to connecting to a wireless network. Worrying about what hackers and data thieves are hanging out on the same network as your unsecured phone should make a difference, but security is another matter.
A public wireless that is broadcasting it’s name is easy for the WP7 phone to see. Okay, even a workplace wireless that’s broadcasting it’s name is easy for the WP7 phone to connected to. However, a wireless network that does NOT broadcast it’s SSID is a problem for the phone to connect to. Mostly because it just doesn’t see it. Well, that’s one way to secure your network.
Now, most laptops and phones have a feature that allow you to add a “hidden” network and do some configuration to connect to those networks. Let me step back a second. Hiding the SSID of a wireless network is 1 layer of security for the wifi signal Using a 128-bit encryption key (by using WEP or WPA2 – which is even better than WEP) is a second layer. If you REALLY want to secure it after that, use MAC filtering to allow only certain devices to connect to a network for a third layer of security. Hackers are gonna have a terrible time connecting to this network. And set an administrator password on the configuration manager on the router itself. A strong one, please?
Okay, now to get off the security soapbox. If you want to connect your WP7 phone to a hidden wireless network, you’re basically out of luck. It won’t find it, and there’s no way to manually configure one. And according to Microsoft, the resolution to this problem is to “un-hide” your wireless network.
Now, given that the public wireless at my workplace, and my own private home network are both hidden networks, this is definitely NOT a solution. I’m having to say that this is a serious fail on Microsoft’s part.
Okay, so part two of my initial disappointment with WP7 is it’s apparently inability to sync easily with Microsoft Exchange servers. Now, I’ve been browsing the net looking for resolutions to this issue, and I’ve tried all I can to get my client’s phone connected. But it keeps coming back with a stupid certificate mismatch error. Now, there are others out there that have successfully gotten them connected and are not having problems, but I know there’s nothing wrong with the cert (other than it’s self-signed). But if certain other mobile devices that aren’t Microsoft can use a certificate with a problem in it’s name, why can’t a Microsoft device?
Now, to be fair, this may not be a problem with the phone itself. The cert is self signed, and it’s always best practice to use a third party certificate for accessing an Exchange server’s mail services from outside a network. And the client, when accessing mail, does have a weird proxy setting in their account settings (msstd:mailservername.domainname.com). If we try to configure that name on the phone’s settings, it deletes everything past the :. If we use just the mailserver.domainname.com FQDN, it complains about the certificate problem.
Oh, and there’s no way of going and deleting an installed certificate without resetting the phone. Hmmm, seems like overkill to me. Which brings me to my third (I know I said I had 2 disappointments) issue with WP7. There’s no way to manage files and folders from a USB connection to your laptop. one of the best advances of WP6.5(Pro) was that you could connect the device via USB cabel, and use it as a portable storage device. You could browse into the files (even on the device not just on the storage card) and manipulate them to your heart’s content.
Not so WP7. You connect it with a USB cable, and it opens and syncs with the Zune software. Great for media and marketplace apps, bad for trying to transfer files. The aforementioned certificate for Exchange? You have to email it to an account you can sync with (Yahoo, Hotmail), tap on it from that email, and install it from there.
Currently, I keep all my contacts, calendar, and task information stored in my local Outlook pst file (I am not connected to an Exchange server). I wouldn’t be able to sync any of that information to a new WP7 phone without first transferring all that data to a hotmail account and syncing it from there.
Okay, that’s a serious fail on Microsoft’s part. Yes, I understand they want us to move to hotmail (can we say Android/Apple/Google/Gmail?), but since Outlook is a native Microsoft application, wouldn’t it have made sense to allow WP7 to sync with one of their own programs?!
Mind you, NONE of these complaints are making me want to switch to that fruit device. I’m actually perfectly happy with my Win6.5 Professional phone. I MAY contemplate updating to an Android phone at the end of the year when I’m eligible for an upgrade. I MIGHT even consider going to a WP7 phone with the more business oriented Mango OS on it (okay, that’s it’s code name for now. What it’s final name will be is anyone’s guess). but Microsoft did confirm that the current OS is aimed at the public consumer market, not really business market. Perhaps when the “Mango” OS is available, some or all of my complaints will be addressed and corrected.
We shall see.