Business user makes case for Windows Phone 8

Computerworld Premier 100 attendees not warm to BlackBerry 10

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Part of what Microsoft hopes customers will understand about Windows Phone 8 smartphones is that they are linked to an ecosystem that includes Excel, PowerPoint and Word.

That ecosystem concept should intrigue IT managers, even though Microsoft has spent a lot of time marketing Windows Phone devices to working moms and ordinary consumers thus far. Windows Phone has less than 5% of global smartphone market share, well behind market-leading Android devices and Apple's second-place iPhone.

At least one business-focused Windows Phone 8 user surfaced at Computerworld's Premier 100 conference here, saying he is ecstatic that he can edit a PowerPoint presentation from his Nokia Lumia 920, powered by Windows Phone 8.

"I love it. I think it will be really big," said that Windows Phone 8 user, Michael Bouffard, owner of CrossLane Tech, a business that converts print magazines to online.

Bouffard said he likes that Windows Phone 8 is integrated with SkyDrive, which ties together his PC, tablet and phone. "I save a document to my SkyDrive and it's available to me on all my devices," he said.

He also called the Internet Explorer on WP8 "the best browser on any Phone I've used to date."

Ironically, Bouffard said he didn't think Windows Phone 8 is really that suited to consumer users for playing music and taking photos.

However, another Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 user, Lakshman Charanjiva, CIO of NextEra Energy, said he likes the device exactly for its ability to play music and other consumer-oriented features. "I don't have that many apps on it, but I really like it." He said he has managed to convert his iTunes songs for use on the Lumia 920.

Both Bouffard and Charanjiva said they realized that the Windows Phone Store is lean on total apps -- about 130,000, compared with more than 700,000 for both Google Play and Apple's App Store. "But I don't really need that many," Bouffard said.

Like many users, Charanjiva carries two phones on him at all times, the second one an older BlackBerry slider used for his business needs, including email. He used to have two BlackBerry smartphones, and was ready to drop one for a new iPhone but tried out the Windows Phone instead. "I really liked it," he said, noting the way Microsoft has created the live tiles concept for keeping applications active on the home screen in a thumbnail size.

Charanjiva said his company has not decided whether it will upgrade to BlackBerry 10 devices, although top management has so far wanted to stay on the BlackBerry platform.

BlackBerry 10 and the coming Z10 touchscreen smartphone and Q10 qwerty phone didn't seem popular with CIOs and IT executives at the Premier 100, several saying that the company has declined too much in the past two years. At a luncheon discussion, eight different CIOs and IT managers all said they were not planning to move to BB10 and devices running it.

Anti-BlackBerry sentiments were high, though, with several of the eight, who said that delays with the new BB10 and a major outage from 18 months ago were still resonating. Most at the table used various versions of the iPhone instead.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at  @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

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