The big headline addition in Windows Phone 8.1 Update is an alpha of the Cortana voice assistant for Australian users, and many of the other features such as folders are aimed at individual users. For IT managers, a more interesting potential inclusion is Apps Corner, a cut-down approach to mobile device management (MDM).
Microsoft explains the feature in a blog post announcing the update, which is expected to roll out to Windows Phone users later this year:
With Apps Corner, you can specify which apps are displayed in a special “sandboxed” mode (like a protected Start screen) that restricts which apps are used. This feature is for businesses so they can allow access to select apps in cases where a full MDM solution isn’t required. Apps Corner can also be used to boot straight to an app. An example of where this scenario would come in handy might be with employees at a distribution center using Windows Phone devices that go straight into an inventory app they use to scan products in the warehouse when they turn on their phone. Apps Corner can also be used to setup retail demos. Retailers can export the profile of Apps Corner on one device and import it on to other devices. And developers can get data on usage from inside Apps Corner too.
Just how useful this is remains to be seen, but it’s an interesting variant on existing approaches to MDM on Windows Phone.
Windows Phone 8.1 Update brings Cortana to new markets + new features [Windows Phone Blog]