Microsoft is moving fast to incorporate its new Outlook mobile apps for iOS and Android into the company's cloud-enabled mobile device management (MDM) platform, dubbed Enterprise Mobility Suite.
Microsoft released the mobile version of the Outlook email client earlier this year, after acquiring the Francisco-based mobile email startup behind the popular Acompli app for iOS and Android for an undisclosed amount. Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of Outlook and Office 365, said at the time that the deal for Acompli was "part of our company-wide effort to help people accomplish more with their mobile devices," in a statement.
Millions of downloads later, Microsoft is looking to help organizations manage and protect those mobile inboxes by having the Outlook app follow in the footsteps of the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant's other mobile productivity offerings.
"Over the past 6 months, we have released Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive for Business, and OneNote for both iOS and Android," blogged Brand Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise division. "All of these applications are integrated with the Data Leakage Protection [DLP] and Conditional Access capabilities of the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS)."
The wait for a secure, mobile Outlook is nearly over, Anderson said. "When the Outlook apps are updated this quarter, they will integrate with the conditional access and mobile application management (MAM) capabilities of EMS."
New controls will allow administrators to restrict the sharing of data with policies that limit the use of features like copy, cut and paste to prevent leaks of sensitive information. Security-conscious organizations can also set policies to determine where attachments are saved or specify that emails are only sent to compliant devices.
The Acompli-based Outlook app quickly climbed up the Android and iOS app rankings and attracted a following of users in part by virtue of its consumer-friendly interface and feature set. After the update rolls out, Anderson indicated that Microsoft is seeking to make Outlook the mobile email client that users rely on for both their work and personal lives.
"Now, a user can switch between personal and business use within the same app. When being used for business, all the data leakage protection and security settings defined by IT are in place and enforced. When in personal use, the apps are not managed," said Anderson. The functionality is enabled by the software development kit (SDK) for Intune, Microsoft's MDM software.
"Inside of Outlook, the user is able to toggle between inboxes," continued Anderson. "When in the business or corporate context, all the DLP rules are applied. In the personal context, IT is not involved at all—we believe that this elimination of IT's connection to personal data is how it should be."