Microsoft officials are touting the fact that Apple's new iPhone 3G is compatible with the Microsoft Exchange messaging and Outlook e-mail environment, a fact that could help the iPhone challenge RIM's ubiquitous BlackBerry as the mobile device of choice for business users.
"Apple's implementation of the Exchange ActiveSync protocol demonstrates the continued high demand from corporate users to access their business e-mail," a Microsoft spokeswoman said Friday.
Exchange compatibility means iPhone 3G users -- and users of the original iPhone who download the iPhone 2.0 software update -- can actively synchronize their mobile and PC-based versions of Microsoft's Outlook calendaring and messaging applications.
That could prove useful for sales reps and other professionals who split time between their offices and remote locations.
iPhone 2.0 also gives mobile users secure access to other corporate resources through Cisco's IPSec VPN and wireless network services with WPA2 Enterprise and 802.1X authentication.
But while business users may relish the thought of having access to their work files via an iPhone, IT managers may be less thrilled as it means an additional device that must be supported. To help IT pros handle what could be an influx of iPhones on their networks, members of Microsoft's Exchange team on Friday posted a blog entry with tips on how to track and manage iPhone users on Exchange.
While the Exchange team is working with Apple on iPhone compatibility, Microsoft's Mac Business Unit, which produces applications -- such as Office 2008 -- for the Mac platform, is for now not planning to release any iPhone-specific applications, according to an executive with the unit.
Amanda Lefebvre, senior marketing manager at MacBU, said the group hasn't ruled out creating iPhone 3G applications, but stressed that there's nothing currently in the works.