Microsoft wants to make Windows Phones thief-proof by mid-2015

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Despite some huge updates to Windows Phone in the past few months, Microsoft’s mobile OS still lags behind the competition in more than a few ways. No, we’re not talking about app selection, though that’s still a real issue. Instead the company announced today that it’s working with the CTIA to beef up anti-theft technology for Windows Phone. Microsoft’s Vice President of US Government Affairs Fred Humphries says the company signed CTIA’s Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment back in April, and hopes to hit all its requirements by July 2015. These Windows Phone updates will let you remotely wipe your phone if it’s stolen or make the device completely unusable for unauthorized users unless they’re calling 911. You’ll also be able to block a would-be smartphone thief from re-activating the phone, and of course undo those blocks once you recover your device.

Over recent months, Microsoft has been working with others in the wireless industry to develop voluntary principles for implementing more robust theft-deterrent technologies in smartphones. As a result of this work, Microsoft signed on to CTIA’s Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment in April, and today we are able to confirm that we will meet these commitments before the CTIA goal of July 2015. To do this, the current capabilities of the “Find My Phone” feature in Windows Phone will be extended to include the following capabilities: (1) Remotely erase personal data from the smartphone, (2) Render the smartphone inoperable by unauthorized users, except the ability to call 911, (3) Prevent reactivation or setup of the smartphone without the authorized user’s permission, (4) Reverse the inoperability if they recover their smartphone and restore user data stored in the cloud if the smartphone was erased. The new theft deterrent features will be offered as an update for all phones running Windows Phone 8.0 and newer, though availability is subject to mobile operator and phone manufacturer approval. Additional details on functionality and availability will be provided closer to the official release.

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