Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

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The BES Express 5.0.1 product includes the same BlackBerry Web Desktop feature included with the full BES product, enabling users to manage their own handhelds, backup and restore data as well as configure message filters.
So what? Whilst the BES Express product does enable client devices to enjoy push email and PIM data synchronisation functionality on a BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service) tariff, unless you have the more expensive BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) tariff, it is not possible to activate devices wirelessly using the Enterprise Activation feature. (http://ukblog.im-mobility.com/how-does-bes-wireless-activation-process-work).

This means that whilst it isn't possible for users to be remotely activated against a BES Express deployment over the air if they are on the cheaper BIS tariff, they can activate their devices remotely via their web browser by connecting their BlackBerry device to their PC via the supplied USB cable.

UPDATE - with the latest release of the BES Express product it is possible to use your BlackBerry smartphone on a BIS tariff. Whilst the Enterprise Activation feature won't be listed on the phone in the usual place, a separate application is available to download from the AppWorld which restores this functionality - http://ukblog.im-mobility.com/blackberry-enterprise-activation-bis-users

System Requirements

The BlackBerry Web Desktop is a web application hosted on the BES Express server itself by default, depending on the options you selected during the installation.
By default, any device can be activated by a user using the Web Desktop "wireline" activation feature. This behaviour is configured within the properties of the Administration Service component:

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

In order to access the site externally, TCP port 3443 must be open to the BES Express server, or the server hosting the BlackBerry Administration Service, on all firewalls between it and the Internet. If an alternate port was specified during the installation of the BES Express software, this port must be opened instead.

Client Access

The Web Desktop is accessed via https://(bes_express_server):3443/webdesktop/login

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

As with the Administration Service, it can be accessed either via Active Directory or BlackBerry authentication mechanisms.

The web site itself is only accessible from Internet Explorer 6 or later, as Microsoft ActiveX components are required to enable device connectivity. When logging in for the first time, you will be prompted to install this component:

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

In order for the installation to be successful, the Web Desktop address should be added to the Trusted Sites security zone within the Internet Explorer options:

Trusted Sites

If the device communication components were not successfully installed you will receive notification that further setup is still required:

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

Add the site to the Trusted Sites and refresh the browser window, you will then be prompted to install the component:

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

This component can be optionally installed on all PCs in a domain automatically via Group Policy if desired, read the Administrator Guide for more information.

If Active Directory authentication is enabled, any AD users can theoretically access the site, but if not added to the BES as a user, they will not be able to access any BES-related functionality:

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

Once the device components have been installed, provided that the user is enabled for BlackBerry service, they will be prompted to connect their device to their PC:

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

Once connected, the new hardware will be detected automatically:

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

The device will then be associated with the user automatically:

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

And the PIN number will be displayed:

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

If a BlackBerry handheld is already associated with the user account, the option of switching to their new device will be given:

Activating BlackBerries remotely via BlackBerry Web Desktop with BES Express

The activation process is now complete.

For more information on the functionality available in the Web Desktop application, read this article - http://ukblog.im-mobility.com/bes-50-web-desktop-manager