Microsoft starts rolling out mobile device management to Office 365 business customers

Microsoft will be rolling out its promised, free subset of mobile-device-management features to Office 365 commercial customers over the next four to six weeks.

In October 2014, Microsoft announced it would be embedding a subset of the mobile-device-management (MDM) features that are part of Intune directly into Office 365.

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On March 30, company officials said this subset was generally available and would be rolled out worldwide over the next four to six weeks. The subset of MDM features will be free to Office 365 Business, Enterprise, EDU and Government customers.

By embedding MDM directly into Office 365, Microsoft is aiming to make good on its promise to manage not just devices, but also the apps and data on phones and tablets running Windows, iOS and Android. The coming capabilities will allow administrators to manage devices using policies and wipe corporate data when necessary, while still preserving personal data.

The primary focus of the subset of features embedded in Office 365 is on protecting e-mail. Users will be able to handle the following with the free, built-in MDM features:

  • Conditional access: Set up security policies to ensure that Office 365 corporate email and documents can be accessed only on phones and tablets that are managed by your company and that are compliant with your IT policies.
  • Device management: Set and manage security policies, like device level pin lock and jailbreak detection, to help prevent unauthorized users from accessing corporate email and data on a device when it is lost or stolen.
  • Selective wipe: Remove Office 365 company data from an employee's device while leaving their personal data in place.

For users who want and need a more robust set of MDM features, Microsoft sells Intune as a standalone paid subscription or as part of its Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS). Microsoft is updating Intune with new features on a monthly basis.

With Intune, users can manage not just iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices, but also Windows devices. They also can provision and manage certificates, WiFi, VPN; manage internal line-of-business (LOB) apps; and integrate with System Center Configuration Manager. A list of the differences between the freely embedded features and what Intune adds is available on TechNet.

Additional details about the subset of MDM functionality that's coming to Office 365 is available in this TechNet article.

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