Windows Phone 7 and Exchange Active Sync

One of the things I’ve been trying to track down is which Exchange Active Sync (EAS) policies Windows Phone 7 does and does not support. The issue here is that Windows Phone 7 only supports a subset of the available policies, while the older Windows Mobile supports (I believe) all of them, and competing systems—Blackberry, Android, iPhone—support a larger subset.

In any event, Microsoft does have a page describing this support.

Its important to note that Windows Phone 7 devices only support a subset of the Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) policies available with Exchange 2003, Exchange 2007, and Exchange 2010. Currently, Windows Phone 7 supports the following EAS policies:

  • Password Required
  • Minimum Password Length
  • Idle Timeout Frequency Value
  • Device Wipe Threshold
  • Allow Simple Password
  • Password Expiration
  • Password History
  • Disable Removable Storage
  • Disable IrDA
  • Disable Desktop Sync
  • Block Remote Desktop
  • Block Internet Sharing

Why All These Missing Enterprise Features?

It’s important to note that Windows Phone 7 (WP7) primarily was developed as a consumer device and not an enterprise device. As a result there of many of the enterprise oriented features we had in Windows Mobile 6.x aren’t available in WP7. However, now that WP7 is out, the Windows Phone 7 team can focus on improving WP7 further and they already do. In addition, since it’s now possible to push out updates via the new “Phone Update” feature, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to buy a new device or wait for the service provider to release a new build in order to benefit from features added after you got a WP7 device.

There’s also some good info on this page around which Exchange mail and calendar features are supported on Windows Phone 7.

And then there’s this page, which provides a table-based comparison EAS support in Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5 (but not Windows Phone 7) to competing mobile platforms.

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25 Responses to Windows Phone 7 and Exchange Active Sync

  1. sk says:

    “It’s important to note that Windows Phone 7 (WP7) primarily was developed as a consumer device and not an enterprise device. ”

    That is kind of silly and a bad attitude if they want to compete with the likes of Android or iOS. I hope they add these missing features (including support for the other EAS policies) within the next 6 months.

  2. Chris says:

    This section is interesting:

    “In addition, since it’s now possible to push out updates via the new “Phone Update” feature, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to buy a new device or wait for the service provider to release a new build in order to benefit from features added after you got a WP7 device.”

    I thought Microsoft came out and said the opposite? Provider WILL need to approve a build before it’s pushed out, and they can only be one build behind current.

    Am I wrong?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      Microsoft is still pushing out updates. And “new builds” of the OS are no longer required, as with Windows Mobile. Carriers do need to approve updates, but they can only hold up updates for one update cycle. The point here is that the updates–along with new features and functionality–are in fact coming from Microsoft, and not from the carriers.

  3. lzandman says:

    Hope they also fix the email sync delays. It often takes more than 10 minutes for email status changes to sync with Outlook. I’ve set all accounts to sync immediately (push mail) and incoming email arrives instantly. But changes like read/unread and deletion don’t seem to be synched instantly. Now, I don’t need those to happen instantly, but I do expect them to be propagated within a minute or so. But as I said before it often takes more than 10 minutes.

  4. gpsarakis says:

    Sounds good, no question MS is now working on adding as much missing stuff back in as they can. Speaking of which there’s been the rumor/talk of MS showing or talking about details for a 2nd bigger WP7 update in Feb at the MWC keynote which SteveB will do.

    It’s still pretty early but if they’re already looking at what’s coming in a 2nd OS update that gives users confidence in this new platform.

  5. Hal says:

    I am going from Windows Mobile 6.5 to Windows Phone 7 and personally I am really going to miss 3 features:
    – Setting out of office
    – Searching on the server
    – Integrate voice mail player

    These features were sometimes life savers, I will really miss them.

    The question is, what EAS support (if anything) will be added in the first update? Any clues Paul?

  6. commo22 says:

    Of concern to me is whether we will require new devices to support the “Require Encryption on the device” policy. How do we know whether the current batch of Windows 7 Phones support on device Hardware based Encryption. I remember when Apple released iOS 3.1 and all of a sudden only the iPhone 3GS had the hardware to support those requirements but not the iPhone 3G. I just hope we don’t have to wait until the next generation devices and the capability is already built into the current devices.

  7. nulldev2010 says:


    How long do you think it will take for MS to add the missing EAS features to WP7? Since they already have done it for WM6.*, it should be relatively easy for them, right?

    There is another table comparison of EAS support in mobile platforms. This one includes WP7:

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I think it will happen in 2011.

      Then again, I thought we’d have gotten some number of updates by now too. Microsoft’s glacial pacing is beginning to really bother me.

      • lzandman says:

        Of course this is pure speculation, but the fact that we haven’t seen ANY updates yet, might suggest they are indeed going to release a somewhat major update to the Windows Phone OS at the beginning of next year. They could have changed some core stuff, which would be incompatible with the current version of the OS. Then it wouldn’t make much sense to release updates for the current OS release, if they aren’t going to be compatible with (or are already included in) that next update.

        I do hope they will take on the strategy to release early and often, instead of one major update each year, just like you suggested they should do for IE9 (Windows Weekly).

  8. Paul I don’t think it can be said that Microsoft’s pace has been glacial for Windows Phone 7. The platform has barely been on the market for 1.5 months (just over a month in the US, longer elsewhere). I’d start to get worried if we don’t see an update by February.

    In any event, I wrote my wrap-up post for a social review of Windows Phone 7 yesterday – the only thing stopping me making a permanent switch is storage capacity of the current crop of devices. I need at least 32GB and none of the devices available in Australia have that much storage, unfortunately.

  9. Hey Paul,

    This is off topic, but have you seen this very nice website for WP7 apps? It’s excellent and very well done.

  10. Pingback: Windows Phone 7 Active Sync Policy Settings

  11. Pingback: Full list of supported Windows Phone 7 Exchange policies available

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  14. Pingback: Windows Phone 7 and EAS (exchange active sync) policy support « Chad Solarz's IT blog

  15. lzandman says:

    I would actually expect some of these missing policies to be added in the very near future. One major missing thing is hardware encryption. Almost every enterprise I know enforces that one, which renders WP7 useless in those cases. I would expect Microsoft to also enforce this policy.

    With that in mind it’s interesting to see that Microsoft has announced that they are going to roll out WP7 devices globally for every employee. In fact, over here in The Netherlands they already gave a Samsung Omnia 7 to every employee two weeks ago. Would this mean that Microsoft’s Exchange infrastructure doesn’t enforce the hardware encryption policy or that they might even have temporarily removed it?

  16. ewoodrick says:

    Everyday now I’m feeling that Microsoft didn’t create a Windows Phone, it create an iPhone. Let’s see, what was missing on the first releast of iPhone? Cut and Paste, multi-tasking, Exchange ActiveSync Support? One would have thought that even marketing wouldn’t have allowed the dev team to make the same mistakes.
    The iPhone really didn’t catch on until it had ActiveSync support. So call it a consumer device, but its consumers who work for corporations.

  17. Pingback: When will Windows Phone 7 target the enterprise? – Computerworld (blog) | Cell Phone option

  18. tombasham says:

    Hi Paul,
    I’ve been doing some research on this myself, if you’re interested I’ve got some additional info from MS on my blog here:

    While I can see where they’re coming from with their reasoning in practice I don’t think it stands up to close examination.

    I’ve also got an up to date table of policy compatibility:

    Hope they help.

  19. I am worried about this platform. I see you getting a little more critical of it, Paul and as a user, I have had my SIM in my Nexus One for the last couple of weeks. I really hope the updates bring it along. When you get critical and Microsoft gets quiet, it isn’t a good sign.

    I think you were very accurate in your parallel of how Microsoft handled Vista by staying quiet and how that offered them nothing but disaster. They need to be out there pumping this thing up. By now, I would have given exact dates for the updates, feature sets, etc… Put the pressure on.

  20. Pingback: Using ActiveSync for Scalix on a Windows Phone 7 Device « Thom's HeadSpace

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