Microsoft Jumps Into The Mobile Device Management Fray

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Microsoft made good on its promise to add mobile device management (MDM) to its Office 365 productivity service, making the feature generally available today to commercial customers. Microsoft has added, in English, the ability for large companies to manage Office on the phones of their employees, regardless of whether the handset in use is a personal or corporate device.

Mobile device management is a heated space inside the enterprise market. MobileIron, a company that offers MDM along with other related services, recently went public. Another market participant, Good Technology, filed to go public, shelved its offering, and now appears ready to take another crack at flotation.

Microsoft’s MDM product will be free to commercial Office 365 customers. That is sensible, as the software company is, I presume, more focused at the moment on growing its seat-base rather than wringing positive dollar churn from fresh accounts.

As you would expect, Office 365’s MDM tooling includes the ability to wipe information from employee handsets, implement security requirements and restrict access to data.

Office 365 is a key product for Microsoft, which is working to convert its single-sale software model into a recurring stream of subscription revenue. The company breaks out its consumer Office 365 subscriber base on a per-quarter basis, but not its commercial seat count for the product. If MDM can help Microsoft sell more quickly into the enterprise market, the company could make progress toward beating its currently tepid, expected growth tally for its current fiscal year.

Update: I wasn’t masterfully precise in the above. Microsoft offered MDM through its Intune service previously, but is now rolling it out to the Office 365 product. If I managed to obfuscate, I apologize for the confusion.