User and Developer Group Holiday Meetup–Wednesday, December 15th, 2010#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

While we will not be having a formal meeting in the month of December, we *will* have our annual holiday gathering of the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Groups. This year, we will be meeting at The Bison County BBQ and Grille. Bison County is located at 275 Moody Street in Waltham, MA.

Map picture

The holiday festivities will be on Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 starting at 6:00 PM EST. Plan on some fun, good conversation and a few items for giveaway as well!

I look forward to seeing everyone there!

11/28/2010 15:17:30 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone 7 Apps I Would Be Thankful For#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. It’s a time for family and friends, football (the American kind) and most importantly – giving thanks. On my list this year (albeit down the list behind love, health and other significant items) is giving thanks to Microsoft for finally bringing Windows Phone 7 to the market. Long story short – while I still have Windows Mobile and Android devices available to me at a moment’s notice, every attempt to try to move back to those platforms for perspective ends up being short-lived. I end up right back on my T-Mobile HTC HD7, enjoying the ease of use and “glance and go” functionality Windows Phone 7 provides.

While I am thankful for Windows Phone 7 and the plethora of applications that have already reached the Windows Phone Marketplace (3,000+ and growing as I write this), there are a few applications I am longing for. That said, I thought I would write on some of these applications. Seeing as I am in the holiday spirit of things, I also thought I would write a brief “Dear Santa” letter to each vendor in the hopes that my wishes would be answered and I would have even more to be thankful for this holiday season Smile So without further delay, here is my “Windows Phone 7 Applications I Would Be Thankful For” list…

Hootsuite

“Dear Hootsuite,

Your platform has become an invaluable means in managing and monitoring my social media interactions. Your analysis tools are great, and your mobile applications for iPhone and Android have been mainstays on my devices.

I am now using a Windows Phone 7 device and sorely miss your mobile application functionality. Please, oh please, bring your platform to my phone this holiday season and make my social media experience pleasant once again.”

Waze

“Dear Waze,

I have watched your crowdsourced traffic application evolve from a fun game-type platform into a full-featured turn-by-turn navigation tool that still provides the real-time data and fun aspects so many have come to love.

Having moved to Windows Phone 7, I sorely miss the companionship of your application and invaluable guidance during my morning and evening commutes. Please, Waze – bring your application to Windows Phone 7 and make my commute fun (and faster) once again.”

XM/Sirius

“Dear XM/Sirius,

As a loyal XM subscriber for many years with many devices and an XM Premium subscription, you have managed to keep my sanity during commutes as well as providing me information and entertainment in places that are neither informative nor entertaining. Your iPhone and Android applications have kept me in-the-know when a radio is unavailable.

As the owner of a Windows Phone 7 device, I implore you XM/Sirius to bring your wonderful content to my new phone. Weekend yard work and waiting for the kids will never be quite as bright without you (or the NFL Radio Channel).”

ESPN ScoreCenter/ESPN Radio

“Dear ESPN,

Words cannot express my devotion to your family of networks and the hours of sporting fulfillment they bring to my sports-loving life. Your embracing of mobile technology with the ScoreCenter and ESPN Radio applications for phones has kept me knowledgeable in all things sport when a television was unavailable, making my technology addiction less geeky to those around me craving the latest sports news and scores.

As a user of a Windows Phone 7 device, I long once again to have the latest scores, stats and news available to me wherever I go. Please, ESPN – bring your wealth of all things sport to my new phone, making me happy and less nerdly to others around me.

P.S. – You think you could throw in an ESPN3 app for Windows Phone while you’re at it?”

TripIt

“Dear TripIt,

As a TripIt Pro subscriber, your iPhone and Android applications have often proved to be my best travel companion while on the road for both business and pleasure. With my complete itineraries and reservation details (as well as flight monitoring), you are the know-it-all obsessive-compulsive travel planning family member I never had.

Now owning a Windows Phone 7 device, I feel as though my family has grown apart, as the web-based version of your platform simply does not compare to your native applications. Please TripIt – bring back my OCD virtual family member to my fold by creating a Windows Phone 7 application. By the way – preferably do this before the upcoming holiday travel season, when I will so miss you.”

I am sure I will find more applications I miss as time goes on, of course. Looking on the bright side, this will give me more items on my wish list and (hopefully) more applications to be thankful for Open-mouthed smile

Happy Thanksgiving to all! May you have much to be thankful, both today and in the future!

11/25/2010 11:50:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

My Windows Phone 7 Enterprise Wish List#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

The holidays are fast approaching, and thoughts turn to children writing (and some adults) making their holiday “wish lists”. With Windows Phone 7 having been launched, I’ve been pondering a bit of a Wish List myself. While Microsoft clearly put the consumer “front and center” in the initial release of Windows Phone 7, they clearly realized that “managing your life” includes work as well as home. This being the case, many users purchasing Windows Phone 7 devices fully intend to use their new phones in their enterprise environments. The question, however, is whether they really can or be allowed to.

The enterprise is evolving with regards to phones. More and more companies are allowing employees to select and even purchase their own devices and connect to corporate infrastructure. Most commonly, there is at the least the allowance of connecting to Microsoft Exchange for email, contact and calendar information. While easing up on some restrictions, there is often a baseline of security that must be adhered to in order for any phone to be considered “safe” for corporate use. In addition, the value of any phone is often attached to its additional potential and uses. If a phone cannot be used for certain productivity scenarios, it is not considered to be “qualified” for the enterprise environment.

With all of these considerations laid out, I now present to you my personal “Top 5 Windows Phone 7 Enterprise Wish List”. While I have placed these items in order of my preference, the realization is that for each individual or business, these needs may vary. Generally speaking, though, I believe that these 5 items are essential to Microsoft gaining greater user acceptance in providing a reason for an individual purchasing the device for both work and personal use.

#5 – Application Blacklist/Whitelist Functionality

While enterprise control over what a user can or cannot install on a phone has been trending downward, the fact still remains that some companies require the ability to restrict what applications can be run on a device. Most commonly today, the use for this is for blocking specific applications (blacklisting) and is usually very tightly scoped (the days of “blocking everything but…” known as “whitelisting” has diminished with increased use of personal phones). When the need for blacklisting does arise for a company, though, the result is typically a “go/no-go” for devices where this cannot be done.

Microsoft had this functionality in Windows Mobile, and it made that platform (along with RIM and the Blackberry) the preferred device on some enterprise networks for a long time. Without this functionality, some users simply will not be able to access work-related information on their Windows Phone.

#4 – Manual WiFi Configuration

In case you were unaware, Windows Phone 7 WiFi network discovery is very restrictive. Simply put – if the SSID of network is not broadcast, it is not available for configuration. In environments where the WiFi network’s SSID is not broadcast, there is no easy way to connect to the network. Now, we can have a long discussion around the security (or lack thereof) that hiding an SSID provides. The fact of the matter, however, is that certain enterprise environments are configured in this way and changing to a broadcast SSID is simply not going to happen any time in the future. If this access is required for work-related activities (Exchange access from within the firewall and Sharepoint access without Forefront UAG installed are examples), we have another “no-go” situation for the user.

Microsoft has provided manual WiFi configuration in the past with Windows Mobile. While the “old” methods may not be conducive to the new Windows Phone 7 UI, it should not be all that difficult to create an option that allows a user to simply enter an SSID for discovery. Such a feature could go a long way in supporting users with business WiFi needs.

#3 – Enterprise Line Of Business Application Deployment

For those organizations building client applications for their business users, providing a controlled method for deploying these applications to only those should have it. In the current Windows Phone 7 world, deployment is – well, “controlled”. There is one way to deploy any Windows Phone 7 application – The Windows Phone Marketplace. Unfortunately, any application that is deployed through that channel is open to the world. There is no way to say “only display this application to these users”. For custom line of business applications accessing sensitive information, this type of exposure is simply unacceptable.

Windows Mobile was the other end of the application deployment spectrum, with complete flexibility in deployment options and a certificate signing process and trust model that still ensured safety. Every phone platform today now supports multiple application deployment options (this includes Apple now) – except Windows Phone. In enterprise environments where these sorts of applications make or break the value proposition of one phone over the other, Windows Phone 7 will be excluded.

#2 – Data Encryption

The pros and cons of the value of device data encryption can be argued for days on end, but one fact remains – in some enterprises encryption is not just an IT policy; it is a legal compliance issue. In the case of all businesses with resident information in Massachusetts, it is the law (see here for more information). If data on a phone cannot be securely encrypted, using that device to store information may very well be in violation of statutes resulting in fines and other penalties. Regardless of the reasons, however, some enterprise environments simply cannot or will not afford the risk of unencrypted data.

Encryption functionality was another strong point for Microsoft and Windows Mobile in the enterprise environment. In addition to solid encryption capabilities, the ability to enforce encryption rules through policies was a key to enterprise acceptance. Microsoft needs to find a way to bring encryption back into the fold with Windows Phone 7. The legislative push for greater data security and privacy is likely to gain momentum and devices (phones or otherwise) that cannot meet the legal and technical criteria simply will not be tolerated.

#1 – Alphanumeric Password

Some may wonder why I have this rated #1 on my list. The reason is quite simple. Even in an enterprise environment where items 2 through 5 on my list are unimportant, the protection of device data through a device password is considered a minimum threshold for security. While Windows Phone 7 supports password security, it currently only supports simple (numeric) passwords. For most enterprise organizations I have worked with, the term “Basic Mailbox Policy” (the minimum security threshold for allowing a user to simply connect to corporate mail) includes the presumption of being able to mandate a more complex password. In many of these environments, not being able to even set an alphanumeric password means no Exchange Server access.

The lack of alphanumeric support and policy enforcement in Windows Phone 7 is one case where I was left nothing short of dumbfounded. While I don’t want to trivialize anything regarding the implementation of a feature, how this was not included for the V1 launch of Windows Phone 7 is out of the realm of my comprehension. I have already encountered people who work for smaller businesses with little to no security policies… EXCEPT for the requirement of an alphanumeric password for corporate accounts. I truly hope this is addressed soon.

There were a couple of items that missed the “Top 5” on my enterprise wish list that should still get some mention -

  • Custom APN configuration. For those enterprises that have agreements with carriers to have dedicated APNs.
  • Office Communicator. For so many enterprises, the expectation of a Microsoft platform includes a Communicator client, especially when the platform itself revolves around communication.

I am certain there are other items on people’s lists that I haven’t covered here as well (I did say this was my wish list, you know Winking smile). I do believe that none of these items are beyond the realm of possibility. While some are far more complex to implement than others, all can be achieved. The result of including these items as part of the value proposition for Windows Phone 7 would all equate to one message – Windows Phone 7 helps you manage your personal and professional life; and your company like it too

11/24/2010 11:54:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Calling All Boston-Area Windows Phone 7 Developers! Startup Weekend Boston Mobile#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

This weekend (November 12th – 14th), there is a great event happening – Boston Startup Weekend! The event will focus on mobile application development and is focused on brainstorming and building mobile applications.

Logo&Banner Template

Startup Weekends bring about 100 people that are interested in starting companies together for the weekend – developers, designers, business people. On Friday night, people pitch their ideas and startups form around the best of the ideas pitched. On Saturday & Sunday people actually create their startups. For this upcoming weekend, the focus is on mobile startups – so all of the discussion, planning and development will be around mobile applications. For more information and to register, visit the Startup Weekend Boston web site.

The folks organizing Startup Weekend Boston are also looking for area developers with Windows Phone 7 experience. In addition to the great content you can learn from and the networking opportunities, you can help to share your Windows Phone 7 development knowledge and assist others interested in learning about and developing for the platform. If you are interested in participating, simply visit the link referenced above for more information.

11/09/2010 09:15:13 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone User/Developer Group Meeting November 17th–Windows Phone 7 Hands-On!#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

The next meeting of the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Groups will take place on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 starting at 6:30pm at the Microsoft offices in Waltham, MA (201 Jones Road, 6th floor).

Map picture

This month, it’s Windows Phone 7 hands-on! We will have Anthony Kinney of Microsoft talking all about Windows Phone 7. In addition, we will have Windows Phone 7 devices on-hand and will demonstrate and discuss the various features and capabilities of Microsoft’s new mobile OS. Be prepared to bring your questions and “must-sees” to this meeting!

I look forward to seeing you all there!

11/04/2010 08:47:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

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