Could a Windows phone solve the problem of blurred lines between home and work?

Everyone at First Line IT knows about John Crozier’s attachment to his Windows phone. If you watch him at work, you can see why he loves it. The integration with Microsoft’s products is seamless, meaning that he can edit documents on his phone, save them easily to OneDrive, and use other products such as email, calendar, and Skype with ease. The phone even looks the same as a laptop or desktop computer, with the characteristic Windows 10 live tiles replacing the app widgets on other phones.

In fact, according to John, the only disadvantage is that many apps are not available for the Windows phone – developers perhaps understandably prioritise the dominant Android and iPhone operating systems.

But is that really so much of a disadvantage?

I was on holiday over Easter and, thanks to losing my phone charger temporarily amongst our unused wet-weather clothes, I spent a large part of the week without a phone. It was the most relaxing holiday I have had in recent years. Although it was slightly annoying not to be able to look up the following day’s destinations, the fact that I could not be tempted to sneek a peak at my emails made up for the inconvenience.

Like many people, I have one phone that contains all my work and personal emails and apps. It makes life easy for me in one sense, but is muddling in many other ways. It’s not just that it makes it difficult to switch off from work when I’m on holiday – I also have to duplicate some tasks, particularly when adding something to my calendar. And using and adding non-Google apps and accounts (I have an Android phone) is not always easy. I’m not alone: the First Line engineers say that a large percentage of their time is spent sorting out customers’ email accounts on their phones.

One way of dealing with the work-life balance problem is to install an app that gives you separate ‘personal’ and ‘work’ identities on the same phone. But that doesn’t necessarily solve the problem of trying to negotiate different sets of apps, not to mention trying to work out the percentage of ‘home’ and ‘business’ use for expenses and tax purposes.

Isn’t the answer to have two separate phones? And if it is, would it not make sense for the business phone to be a Windows phone? The lack of apps would hardly be a problem, and, as the vast majority of small businesses use Microsoft as their standard office system, it makes integration with work so much easier. Businesses could supply their staff with Windows phones for work use only, while staff could buy their own phones to fit into whichever technological ecosystem they are most comfortable with at home.

In fact, given that Microsoft started life as an operating system for IBM business machines, and through that became the market-leading software supplier for home-based PCs, I wonder if this is the route that they had planned all along?

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