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Windows Phone 8.1 includes improved browser performance for SharePoint sites, lists, and libraries

Microsoft’s new smart phone operating system, Windows Phone 8.1 includes an improved web browser. SharePoint lists published from Access 2013 databases can now be resolved correctly on Lumia smart phones. Mobile consumers of SharePoint 2013 and/or SharePoint Online, Office 365 will likely be pleased with this improvement.

This writer uses a Lumia 925 Windows Phone with a cellular data plan and telephony services from T-Mobile. After a protracted wait (an upgrade to Windows Phone 8.1 was expected back in June 2014), the Lumia 925 was finally upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1 in early November. One of the most welcome changes associated with the new operating system was an improved web browser. With Windows Phone 8.0 it was not possible to display a SharePoint list served from SharePoint Online, Office 365. The list was created from an Access 2013 database residing on our local servers. This database was exported as a SharePoint list with the browser controls provided, out-of-the-box, with Access 2013.

Is this a big deal? In this writer’s opinion, the answer is “yes”. The content reposed in the list we’ve mentioned is “mission-critical” to our organization, so the access limitations experienced with Windows Phone 8.0 were a serious impediment to our daily routine. We haven’t a good alternative to using the Lumia 925 for this purpose. We don’t own any iOS mobile devices. We have loaded Office for Android on an LG D415, but we haven’t been successful getting it to work. So for most of our mobile computing needs, the Lumia 925 is our best light weight option.

The better browser performance is not the only high-value improvement we’ve already experienced with Windows Phone 8.1. Better access to multi-tasking is another important new feature. Readers should understand some limits on what we mean by “multi-tasking”.

Any reader interested in this topic, with a few moments to spare, should read a recent interview, Windows Phone 8.1 apps/multitasking FAQ. This writer only became aware of the “back button hold down” procedure of viewing multi-tasking apps running in real time after reading the interview. As Sarah Fegert explains in the interview, it isn’t possible with Windows Phone 8.1 to have a unified view of two applications running on the same screen, as, for example, owners of mobile devices running Android KitKat, can do. But Windows Phone 8.1 is still, nevertheless, very capable of multi-tasking. SharePoint administrators may want to gain further understanding of the multi-tasking capabilities. The interview with Fegert would be a good start.

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