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Security

Microsoft lets IT managers wipe your phone

Unveils update to Windows Mobile 5.0 with messaging and security features such as letting admin staff remotely clean lost devices.

Just weeks after releasing its latest operating system for mobile devices, Windows Mobile 5.0, Microsoft has unveiled a security and messaging features update.

Among the changes in the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0 are faster access to the Outlook e-mail client, the ability to wipe data on devices remotely and certificate-based identity authentication, the company said Monday.

The update, which will be available the second half of this year, will also see the mobile version of Outlook get a makeover. The pack will enable Windows' "direct push" technology, in which information is pushed from Exchange Server to a Windows Mobile phone or PDA without any middleware servers. Other changes include global look-up of contact information from a Windows device.

Outlook will also offer a feature that's been at the disposal of millions of phone owners for some time: synchronizing a photo of an individual with their contact details. In addition, the feature pack will allow users to embed the photo in their mail.

The feature pack also includes a series of updates designed to make the lives of IT administrators managing Windows Mobile handsets easier.

IT managers can now mandate policies and password protocols, as well as exceptions. The feature pack also aims to help the administrator better manage the all-too-familiar scenario of the lost device, by letting heads of IT wipe lost or stolen devices remotely.

Scott Horn, senior director of marketing for Windows Mobile and Embedded Devices, said that IT managers are now thinking about expanding their mobile installations from a select few employees to an expanded work force. They are also trying to manage their mobile devices like the rest of their tech infrastructure, he added.

"What we're constantly hearing from IT professionals is that they want to manage their mobile devices in the same way they manage their PCs and servers," Horn said.

Other changes include Outlook Mobile data compression, which Microsoft reckons can reduce bandwidth required to download e-mail by 35 percent, and the introduction of support for e-mail encryption technology S/MIME.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.