Windows Phone 7 Takes a Bite Outta Apple’s SharePoint Integration

Over the past couple months I’ve been the proud owner of an iPhone, iPad, Droid 2 and now Windows Phone 7 (WP7). I have to admit that I still really enjoy and utilize my iPad the most mainly for data consumption. However, the business story on the iPad has been a miserable and frusterating revelation, fraught with productivity limitations as the discovery that this is NOT a laptop replacement came the hard way – blog to come soon.  Having said that, I’m very excited about Windows Phone 7’s (WP7) ability to do one thing my iPad cannot – integrate with SharePoint through the web browser.

I digress for a moment on the business case.  By far WP7’s strongest selling point is the uniqueness, simplicity and utilization of the interface.  It’s intuitive and provides the best presentation of information on any phone.  The phone literally puts “YOU” as the showcase feature by dynmically displaying pics and data of things you care about – family, friends, music, appointments and etc.  This fusion of personality into technology nearly guarantees that no two phones will look alike.  Additionally, the apps GET OUTTA THE WAY.  I often have my data surfaced without clicking an APP.  If you’ve ever had a Droid, the difference is striking.  No more maintenance of apps, processes and obsessive paranoia on battery life.

What’s really interesting is that it’s probably going to be casual phone user adoption that propels the WP7 platform rather than the Enterprise space.

What I Like:

  • Best interface presentation of any mobile device.
    • Incredibly responsive and performant
    • Social site integration (Facebook, LinkedIn and etc)
    • Tiles surfacing your data and pictures dynamically – this definitely passed the wife test.  She loves seeing her contact picture in the upper right corner as well as the random Facebook pics that float through the People Hub.
    • Hubs – intuitive grouping of applications presented splendidly
  • Application “Back” button
  • Xbox Live Integration
  • Zune Pass integration – to include downloading music directly to my phone (disconnected from PC)
  • Office Hub
  • Battery life for the Samsung Focus is good
  • WP7 IE7 support for SharePoint
  • Combining contacts from Exchange and Facebook (to include Facebook pics)
  • Wireless Sync between my phone and laptop!
  • AT&T network is MUCH better than my experience with Verizon.

What I Don’t Like:

  • Social notifications are missing – COME ON, REALLY?  It’s a tile driven phone and a developer couldn’t figure out how to surface a tweet?
  • Authentication requirements for SharePoint 2010 Workspace integration.  We’ve tried and it still does not work.  See business section below.
  • No dynamic way to update my podcasts – this is available for Droid as “Listen” and OOB for Apple platforms.
  • Browsing and clicking a link can be frustrating.  I often have to zoom to a specific level to click the link.
  • Lack of horizontal orientation on some views
  • I sometimes end up initiating a call when I didn’t mean to
  • Limited tethering:  USB only
  • Integration with social sites can require significant setup and configuration – some customers will be turned off by Windows Live account dependencies.
  • I had to brute-force install the driver to get my pc to recognize my phone in Zune.  This was after an hour on the phone with support (which failed me badly).
  • 2000 apps in MS Marketplace compared to better than 60,000 in each of the Apple and Android market
  • Multi-tasking is missing.  Not that big of a deal to me.
  • The following are rumored to be coming soon:
    • Flash
    • Cut & Paste

Ok, So What About Business?

This section is a work in progress as I have not thoroughly tested all features.  Excel, Word and PowerPoint on WP7 are a subset of the functionality available on the PC.  And in some cases, the “subset” is worse than apps that are available on the Apple platforms from preliminary testing.  Here are the advantages of the Apple platform over the WP7 platform:

  • SharePlus application provides the following for SharePoint:
    • Offline synchronization with SP2007 and SP2010
    • Support for both FBA and Windows Auth
    • Some search
    • Integration with other Apple Office Apps (in case one doesn’t display well) – Docs 2 Go, Numbers, Pages, Good Reader
  • I can annotate and modify PDFs on Apple’s platform
  • Reporting Services application for SSRS Reports
  • I can provide limited featured ppt presentations from KeyNote (at least on iPad)
  • Multiple email, including Exchange, can be combined into one client on Apple platforms (iOS 4.2 for iPad)
  • A plethora of business application mashups are available which enable creative ways to work around limitations

WP7 has two main SharePoint integration features – the Office Hub and IE7 browser.  In the Office Hub are the bread-and-butter business applications to include One Note, Excel, PowerPoint, Word and SharePoint 2010 Workspace.  Unfortunately, I have been unable to get Workspace to work even though we configured FBA.  Here’s an article detailing some of the authentication problems.  However, WP7 does have a major advantage in browsing SharePoint and probably other sites with the mobile browser based on IE7.  Not that the competition was very good as you can’t get much worse than Mobile Safari – which I’m convinced is Apple’s attempt to KILL web applications.  Here’s a list of unsupported and supported features for WP7 IE7:

  • Can upload pictures from phone using the Upload on a document library.  Perhaps can upload other content directly off the phone?
  • Can edit content in SharePoint – supports the Rich Text Editor.
  • Office Web App is supported (at least in Word).  Was able to edit a document but it was a little slow.  Also received a warning about downloading Silverlight.
  • Able to view and click in PowerPivot workbook in SharePoint.
  • No support for SSRS reports (Active X)
  • No support for Datasheet View (Active X)
  • Not all Silverlight is supported
    • PowerPivot Gallery failed to load.  Prompted to download Silverlight.
    • Performance Point Silverlight loaded

WP7 Tips:

  • To date, the Samsung Focus is the phone to buy.
  • Use Bing Visual Search for App Shopping
  • Go to http://profiles.live.com to link social services with windows live.  This will personalize your phone upon first login.
  • Wireless sync must be configured.  Then your phone must be plugged into a charger for 10 minutes for syncs will occur.
  • Paul Thurrott is a great resource on phone setup and tips.

Overall, I love this phone.  The personalization is striking and unique to the smartphone market.  The people at Zune KNOW interfaces and have obviously worked very hard to make the WP7 owner look good.  I think this connection with the end user will go a long way in making up for any business feature shortcomings.  I hope that a tablet is in the near future for the Zune developers.

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~ by spninjablog on November 17, 2010.

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