At a glance, the Windows Phone platform has a lot going for it. Microsoft's smartphone operating system boasts a user-friendly interface, reliable security features and a rapidly growing library of business and productivity apps. It's also the only mobile OS that natively integrates with Microsoft Office.
But behind the colorful, dynamic Live Tiles that give the platform its characteristic look, there's plenty of hidden functionality. Windows Phone users can create private rooms to communicate with colleagues, deploy and manage employee phones, and connect to their office PC from anywhere. Read on for six hidden features that can make Windows Phone better for business.
Sending out an email or SMS text message to a group of colleagues, clients or employees is easy. But what if you want a more comprehensive way to stay in touch and collaborate? Windows Phone Rooms are private, invitation-only virtual spaces for you to connect with a group. Inside each room is a shared private calendar, group chat and collaborative spaces for photos, videos and notes. Any Windows Phone user can join a room; when you invite someone, they receive a text message with a link to join. To create a room, navigate to the People hub, then go to the "Together" page. Tap the plus sign, then tap "Room."
2. Data Sense
An Internet-connected Windows Phone can help you stay productive while on the go. But for most users, mobile data is limited. Depending on your plan, mobile carriers usually restrict your Web usage to just a few gigabytes of data each month. If you go over your limit, expect to pay costly overage charges. To help you monitor and manage your mobile data, Windows Phone has a built-in tool called Data Sense. Just pin the Data Sense app to your home screen for a snapshot of your data usage every time you turn on your phone. You can also tweak the settings to help conserve data by restricting apps from updating in the background at certain times.
3. Remote desktop
Your work PC has everything you need for a productive day, but you can't always be at the office. With the right app, however, you can access your PC desktop right from your Windows Phone handset. TeamViewer is a remote desktop app that acts as a direct portal back to the desktop on your work computer, so you can access your files and programs on the go – so long as your computer is on and running the TeamViewer client. Desktop operating systems such as Windows 7 or Windows 8 weren't designed to be used on a small smartphone screen, but if you really need to check a file or briefly run a program on the go, remote desktop access can be a lifesaver.
4. Running late notifications
You strive to be on time for every business meeting, but traffic or a lapse in memory can leave you running late. Fortunately, the default Windows Phone calendar app lets you easily fire off a quick message to meeting attendees to let them know you're going to be tardy. Just open up your calendar and navigate to the meeting appointment and tap "Late." The app will pull contact information from your address book to send a brief email to attendees, notifying them of your current status. It can't get you there faster, but the feature at least ensures you don't leave colleagues or clients hanging.
5. Office remote
If you deliver frequent business presentations, you probably already know that your Windows Phone is a valuable presentation tool. That's because the phone natively integrates with the desktop version of Microsoft Office, syncing your presentation documents across all your devices. You can make your Windows Phone even more useful with the Office Remote app, which turns your smartphone into a smart remote for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It lets you start PowerPoint presentations, advance the slides and control an on-screen laser pointer from your phone's display. In Excel, you can navigate between graphs and control data slicers, and in Word you can scroll through a document or quickly jump to a specific section.
6. Mobile device management
Deploying Windows 8 handsets to your employees for business use can be a tricky proposition, especially if your business deals with private or confidential client information. To help keep deployed devices secure, Microsoft offers a variety of remote management tools. In particular, Windows Intune lets you manage almost every aspect of your employees' phone, including security settings and which apps are installed on each device. You can update settings on the fly, and even remotely lock and wipe devices to help ensure that company data remains secure if a phone is lost or stolen.