Windows Phones the device of choice for local councils, but strict mobile device management causes issues

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Via local Scottish newspaper The Daily Record we have learned that Perth and Kinross Council is in the process of switching from Blackberry devices to Windows Phones, in particular Lumia 640 handsets.

The 12 elected members of the council have been given the handsets, worth £130 each, as part of a rolling program which will see all the blackberry handsets for the 41 councillors and council officials replaced over the next 18 months.

A spokesperson for Perth and Kinross Council said “Support for existing BlackBerry devices is being withdrawn by the manufacturer from March 2017. ”

“As a result Perth and Kinross Council is undertaking a phased upgrade of all existing BlackBerrys to new Windows mobiles as these offer the council best value, and greatest integration with the council’s existing IT infrastructure.”

The Windows devices are the current phone of choice for a number of local authorities, with various councils in England handing back their BlackBerry mobiles in favour of the Lumia range, notes the Daily Record.

The new devices have however caused some issues, with much of the functionality disabled.

Cllr Peter Barrett told the Perthshire Advertiser he has just received the Windows Lumia phone, but when trying to access social media functionality he found it had been disabled.

He said: “They are great phones, but they’ve got about 90 per cent functionality switched off – they’ve even disabled the selfie setting.

“We used to have BlackBerry phones but it seems we can’t be trusted with keeping in touch via social media with the new devices.

“There’s no way of finding the news online, and if we wanted to highlight the work of the council there’s no way of doing it.

The councillors have found this particularly frustrating as their previous use of Facebook and Twitter to keep in contact with their electorate has made them the third-best council in Scotland for social media promotion.

“I don’t know the ins and outs of the contract, but I would expect it is a national deal with unlimited data so we don’t run up bills, so I can’t see why we’ve got these when basically all we can do is text and call.

“Is it a question of trust?”

The IT staff has however clarified that this issue will be resolved in the future.

“Initially these devices allow them to securely access their council email as well as accessing calendars, reading and editing documents and providing mobile phone and texting services.

“Additional mobile phone features are currently being developed and will provide functionality such as secure Internet/Intranet access and access to an extended range of mobile phone apps.”

Windows Phones have been seeing significant success with small to medium enterprises in Europe, with Microsoft claiming up to 28% market share in this category in some markets. With productivity being an increasing focus for Microsoft going forward, it seems they need to make sure to leave some room for fun also.

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