Microsoft’s days of end-user computing operating system monopoly are over, with Android and Apple iOS devices as common in the workplace as Windows PCs. It is imperative, therefore, that Microsoft is able to delight business users with its email solutions and productivity apps, as this will reduce the likelihood of the vendor losing its grip of the corporate knowledge worker. However, it must do this with care and forethought, or it risks losing supporters in the corporate IT department.
Microsoft has launched new Android and iOS apps designed to make employees more productive and effective as they go about their daily activities. The company will be hoping these initiatives help it maintain its dominance in the corporate workplace and drive adoption of its cloud-based business collaboration platform, Office 365. But pushing new apps to business users – all of whom are first and foremost consumers – without forewarning IT support teams is likely to cause issues and contention within the workplace, as support professionals try to maintain some level of control and governance of corporate systems.
Prior to 29 January 2015, Outlook.com was the app that Microsoft was advocating for users of its consumer email service (which is also known as Outlook.com), and OWA (for iPad, iPhone, and Android) was Microsoft’s mobile app for users connecting to on-premise Exchange servers or the cloud-based Office 365 service. But this changed overnight when Microsoft announced Outlook for iOS and Android.
Built on the Acompli code-base that Microsoft acquired in December 2014, the new app can connect to Office 365, Exchange Server, Outlook.com, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and other major email services, and it has built-in connectors to a number of file sync and share services, such as OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box. However, the new Outlook app is architecturally very different to its previous business-user offering, OWA, and it lacks a number of security, compliance, and end-user features that organizations are likely to require. Anecdotal evidence suggests that businesses and institutions with strict mobile device management policies, and those operating under compliance regimes, are currently blocking or quarantining user devices that attempt to use the new Outlook app, and this is causing users to call the help desk with an issue. This is not what anyone wants.
Microsoft is approaching the mobile device market with renewed vigor and zeal, but it must realize that by targeting business and consumer users with a single app – as in the case of Outlook for email and OneDrive for file sync and share – it is likely to create support issues for IT departments if they are not informed ahead of time. Many organizations are still adjusting to the faster tempo of the mobile-first, cloud-first world of work, and Microsoft must do its bit to help.
The battle for the corporate Inbox: Microsoft, Google, IBM and now Amazon., IT0021-000056 (February 2015)
Office 365: Email Migration, Coexistence, and Adoption, IT0021-000035 (October 2014)
The New Digital Workspace: An Opportunity Not to Be Squandered, IT0021-000016 (August 2014)
Richard Edwards, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Mobility & Productivity
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