Bring your Phone; we bring your email

Recently, John Zanni blogged about a new tool that enables Microsoft Exchange service providers to provision Windows Mobile devices over the air.

I spoke to a few service providers during the Microsoft Global Hosting Summit last year, and our semi-annual Partner Advisory Council to solicit feedback on mobile plans for hosted Exchange, and discovered that even if they enable auto discover, configuring mobile phones was one of the top drivers for support calls or emails. The question was how can we PUSH the email configuration to one or more phones?

This capability is actually built in Windows Phones as both Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) standard of Client Provisioning (OMA-CP) and Device Management (OMA-DM), but rarely used.

I worked with my colleague Khalid Siddiqui to build a tool that can be universally useful in as many scenarios as possible. The tool includes a web service that accepts ActiveSync parameters (user name, server name, phone number), then creates an XML file encapsulated in a CAB file and sends a link to the file via SMS.  There are additional steps on how to sign the CAB file with the proper certificate in the Managing Windows Phones for Hosted Exchange Whitepaper as well.

The end user experience will be

  • - Receive SMS message with a URL

  • - Click URL ,download & Run CAB file

  • - Hit send/receive

  • - Enter your password

This web service can be used in many ways, you can trigger it when a new user is provisioned from your control panel, or you can provision multiple phones from one page.

We also added the configuration parameters for Communicator Mobile (CoMo), so your customers can buy hosted Exchange, hosted Office Communications, and you can send a link to download CoMo bits directly to their phone.

The provisioning tool includes a simple GUI to demonstrate how these two scenarios can be implemented and used.   The ideal way that this web service should be integrated is in the service provider's control panel.

The provisioning tool is available for free download from MSDN code gallery with the source code, which you can customize and use in your environment as you see fit. Our partners EMS-Cortex have integrated this into their control panel, and CBeyond have deployed the tool in their datacenter.

Happy Hosting!

Talal Alqinawy - Industry Director

Communications Sector - Microsoft Corporation

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