Apple Insider reported last week that:
Microsoft is currently planning for both Outlook Web App and the new Lync to debut on the iOS App Store before the end of October…The Outlook Web App, known as “OWA Mobile Client for iOS,” will reportedly be compatible with devices running iOS 5 or later. It was said that it will also require an Exchange 2012 mailbox to work, and will offer users offline functionality. Other mobile versions of the OWA Mobile Client will be available for smartphones with Windows Phone 7.5 or later, or Android 4.0 or later.
THE RADICATI GROUP estimates that 53% of businesses use Microsoft Outlook for messaging. As more iPhone and iPads enter the enterprise, a native app that maintains the Outlook experience is bound to be popular. However, there is a snare that you may have noticed in the quote above. The app will require Exchange 2012 to work. Maybe a Microsoft expert can weigh in here. I am aware of Exchange Server 2010 and the roadmap for Exchange 2015, but can’t seem to find a 2012.
This may be an important point regardless. It would not be a surprise if you require a more recent version of Exchange so Microsoft doesn’t have to worry about infinite backward compatibility. Since there are many enterprises still on Exchange 2007 and even a few on 2003 this may be another catalyst for Exchange upgrades or for enterprises to accelerate their decision on whether they will consider an alternative cloud email option for the enterprise that supports native mobile and fixed computing.
The Lync announcement may be even more important since unified communications is central to Microsoft’s emerging strategy for the enterprise. However, maintaining the messaging footprint is the core foundation Microsoft is using to expand into unified communications.
Will this save Outlook in the Enterprise?
It is easy to wonder is if this move is too little too late. Microsoft has let its death grip on corporate email and productivity apps slip as mobile apps have flocked to ActiveSync to allow native mobile email apps to connect to Exchange Server. This has taken both enterprise and consumer email outside of the Microsoft ecosystem and it may be that consumerization will impact Outlook in the enterprise similar to the BlackBerry experience.
What do you think? Comment below.