The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference being held this week in Houston, Texas has had a nice share of product related announcements for the more than 14,000 partners in attendance and today Windows Phone got its time in the spotlight.

During a session at the WPC this afternoon, Windows Phone Built for Business, a couple of new announcements were made live for attendees. At about the same time a blog post with all the info in it was published on the official Windows Phone Blog.

The first piece of news in the post was that the support lifecycle for Windows Phone 8 would be doubled to 36 months from 18 months.  I think that is great for both consumers and enterprise customers as it makes a high end Windows Phone a good investment as it will receive updates for much longer and not just be abandoned. Now the carrier side of that is a bit stickier as you can see from the lifecycle support webpage:

Microsoft will make updates available for the Operating System, including security updates, for a period of 36 months after the lifecycle start date. These updates will be incremental, with each update built on the update that preceded it. The distribution of these incremental updates may be controlled by the mobile operator or the phone manufacturer from which you purchased your phone, and installation will require that your phone have any prior updates. Update availability will also vary by country, region, and hardware capabilities.

The other item they announced for Windows Phone 8 and beyond is a series of features that will make the OS attractive to enterprise customers who need to be concerned with security of company data, etc.

  • S/MIME to sign and encrypt email
  • Access to corporate resources behind the firewall with app aware, auto-triggered VPN
  • Enterprise Wi-Fi support with EAP-TLS
  • Enhanced MDM policies to lock down functionality on the phone for more enterprise control, in addition to richer application management such as allowing or denying installation of certain apps
  • Certificate management to enroll, update, and revoke certificates for user authentication

This feature pack is expected in the first half of 2014 according to Microsoft.

Comments on the blog post are already focusing on the issue with carriers still exercising control of updates getting out to phones which is a known issue for many early adopters of Windows Phone that are stuck on certain updates with their devices.

Hopefully this extended support cycle will include some commitment from the carrier to not leave handsets behind by holding updates from users.