Microsoft launches beta of cloud-based Windows management service

Microsoft launches beta of cloud-based Windows management service

Summary: Microsoft is pulling back the covers today on another offering in its Microsoft-hosted cloud-computing family: Windows Intune. Windows InTune has been years in the making; it has its roots in System Center Online Desktop Manager (SCODM), the ballyhooed cloud-management product Microsoft unveiled a year ago.

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Microsoft is pulling back the covers today on another offering in its Microsoft-hosted cloud-computing family: Windows Intune.

Windows Intune has been years in the making. Last spring, Microsoft officials announced with much fanfare Redmond's plans to deliver systems management in the cloud, via a service known as System Center Online Desktop Manager (SCODM). SCODM, codenamed "Jupiter," went to a set of select testers, but then seemingly disappeared.

On April 19, Microsoft is relaunching SCODM -- to which the company has added some new licensing and Windows deliverables -- as Windows Intune. It will be available to the first 1,000 customers and partners in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico who sign up for it between now and May 16.

Based on SCODM tester feedback, Microsoft repositioned and rejiggered the Windows Intune service to appeal primarily to mid-size customers (those with between 25 and 500 PCs) who don't want to sign up for the company's Software Assurance annuity-licensing plan, said Sandrine Skinner, a Director in the Windows Commercial Product Management unit.

The goal of Windows Intune (now codenamed "Florida," for those keeping score at home) is to provide IT professionals with a way to manage and secure PCs from anywhere. There are two components to Windows Intune: On-premises Windows and Windows management tools, plus an online management and security service.

Windows Intune customers get the rights to Windows 7 Enterprise Edition -- currently available only to Software Assurance licensees -- as well as Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), the set of desktop deployment and management tools also only available to Software Assurance customers today.

"You get everything an Enterprise Agreement customer would get with Software Assurance benefits, but you don't need Software Assurance," said Skinner.

On the cloud side, Windows Intune, not surprisingly, sounds a lot like SCODM. It includes a Web-based administration console; desktop monitoring and configuration; update management; remote assistance; and asset management.

(Here's a slide showing what Microsoft was planning/promising with SCODM, for comparison.)

The Windows Intune service builds on top of the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine (the same anti-malware/anti-virus engine at the heart of Microsoft's free Microsoft Security Essentials service for consumers and the Forefront suite for business customers). It allows IT pros to set security policies for users' machines, even those outside the corporate network, by installing a piece of client-based software on Windows XP, Vista and/or Windows 7 PCs.

Microsoft is planning to deliver the final version of Windows Intune within a year from now, Skinner said. Additional pricing/licensing details are not available at this time, she said.

From this early information, what do you think of Microsoft's Windows Intune plan? Did Microsoft's decision to add Windows 7 Enterprise and MDOP functionality to the package -- along with eliminating the Software Assurance requirement -- make it any more interesting/useful to you and your organization?

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • No prices....

    With the inclusion of what is the equivalent of MDOP, and what is the equivalent of SA (even though they say you don't need SA) means that the price is likely going to be too high for most SMB's that already have an infrastructure in place.

    Small businesses are once again looking to find some kind of equivalent cloud option, but aren't finding anything within a reasonable cost, relative to SBS. There needs to be a tightly integrated suite that includes Intune+BPOS for small businesses within a reasonable monthly cost per PC. Paying even $30/PC/month just isn't within the realm of the small business budget. If you're paying $3600/yr for 10 PC's, over the course of 3 years, that would pay for a really good small business server and lots of IT support.
    Joe_Raby
    • RE: Microsoft launches beta of cloud-based Windows management service

      @Joe_Raby, Yes. There needs to be a tightly integrated suite that includes Intune+BPOS for small businesses within a reasonable monthly cost per PC.
      raimu koyo asu
  • RE: Microsoft launches beta of cloud-based Windows management service

    Small businesses buy their PCs at retail stores and already pay for the Windows operating system. Paying twice - when they buy MDOP - doesn't make the business successful. I do like the idea of making online management available with BPOS for $10 /user /month.
    AllTalk
  • RE: Microsoft launches beta of cloud-based Windows management service

    I'm in. The extra goodies are icing on the cake, but we've needed this functionality since broadband became widely available.
    kevindsingleton@...
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