Microsoft goes public with its plan to manage Windows, iOS and Android devices

Microsoft goes public with its plan to manage Windows, iOS and Android devices

Summary: Microsoft takes the official wraps off its newest version of its Windows Intune management service and its System Center 2012 platform for managing Microsoft and non-Microsoft mobile devices.


On January 15, Microsoft went public with its product portfolio for managing iOS, Android, Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 devices from the cloud.

Microsoft officials shared publicly the details about the company's so-called Cloud OS management plans during a 30-minute Webcast for press and analysts on January 15.

The Redmondians are offering IT managers two primary ways to do this: Via Windows Intune cloud-management service and/or via its Systems Center 2012 systems-management suite. Microsoft is positioning its systems- and mobile-device management components as part of its Cloud OS, which is becoming the company's uber-brand for all of its products from its Server and Tools division, including Windows Azure, Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server and Visual Studio.

Microsoft quietly rolled out the fourth version of its Windows Intune service (codenamed Wave D) in December 2012. Since that time, only new users have had access to this version, which adds the ability to manage Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 devices. Existing Windows Intune users have had to wait until this week February to get the latest version of the service, which is hosted on Microsoft's Windows Azure public cloud.

Microsoft originally added iOS and Android device management capabilities to Windows Intune with Version 3. But the new version of the Intune service is less reliant on the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol for managing most mobile devices (other than Android-based ones).

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Microsoft also released the first service pack for its SystemS Center 2012 product in December 2012. SP1 adds the ability to manage Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012 and Windows 8. The Configuration Manager SP1 component is what's enabling mobile-device management.

Both of these management products also enable sideloading of corporate apps on Windows and Windows RT mobile devices. Intune provides a Company Portal app out of the box, which is available from the Windows Store. Companies can populate the portal with corporate/line-of-business apps it wants its users to install. Admins optionally can use a Windows Intune add-on for Configuration Manager to implement the company portal app for internal distribution.

Microsoft also announced during the Webcast that Windows Azure Services for Windows Server is now generally available to Microsoft's hosting-service providers. Azure Services for Windows Server, which Microsoft released  in test form last year, adds some of Windows Azure's capabilities to Windows Server. These add-on services include hosted virtual machines; support for high-density Web sites; a service-management portal; and a service-management programming interface (codenamed Katal). Microsoft may opt, at some point, to make Azure Services for Windows Server available to its larger customers, as well.

Microsoft officials also unveiled a Web-app-performance monitoring service running on Windows Azure and complement to System Center 2012 SP1 known as Global Service Monitor. Global Service Monitor is in preview now and will be final in March 2013.

Microsoft is offering Windows Intune at two price points: A $6 per user per month version that doesn't include Software Assurance and Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) tools, and a $11 per user per month version that adds Software Assurance/MDOP.

Topics: Cloud, Android, iOS, Mobile OS, Microsoft Surface, Windows Phone, Windows Server


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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  • Kudos to Microsoft

    I laugh every time anyone claims that MS only has Windows and Office. Those people sure do sound like fools when they write that.
    • And I laugh every time .....

      you post something that makes you sound like a fool, which is pretty often.

      MS "shared publicly the details" of its product portfolio/plan. It may still amount to very little. We will see how it fares against competitors in the long haul. MS has unveiled a lot of products and plans, later abandoned for a variety of reasons.

      As far as you ridiculing claims that "MS only has Windows and Office", I cannot imagine MS tools and back end products having done very well without Office and Windows as the demand drivers. Hence Windows and Office are the two main products. Whether you get that fact or not is entirely irrelevant. Ridiculing it just makes you look even more pathetic.
      • To paraphrase

        As long as we ignore the fact that MS sells a ton of other products, MS only sells 2 products.

      • Microsoft even had their own version of Unix once

        It was called Xenix.

        Windows and Office are Microsoft's cash cows, but I believe e.g. SQL Server and SharePoint are doing just fine, too... And Visual Studio/.NET is a good and popular development enironment.
        • exchange

          Don't forget Exchange.
          • That would be covered under the office umbrella brainiac.

            Exchange is always a given when mentioning MS office... Just like BSODs are a given when mentioning Microsoft... And moronic is a given when mentioning toddbottom3.
          • How so?

            That's a ludicrous statement. Quite a few people use Office without Exchange Server. There's Groupwise, Notes/Domino and the myriad of open source products, just to start the list of competing products. Exchange is a separate product from Office, just as SQL Server, Lync, etc. all are. They just happen to work very well together (which is why businesses tend to choose a Microsoft solution).

            As for BSODs... if you're plagued by them, you really should take a look at how you're building your infrastructure. Outside of hardware issues, BSODs are extremely rare now.
          • And how does personal attacks

            on anyone here add to the debate???
          • i8thecat please stop

            Exchange is its own product. It separated from Office 10 years ago.

            I can go on but there's no point.
            Master Wayne
          • BSODs ???

            I'm a MS infrastructure architect and haven't seen a BSOD in at least 5 years.

            If you're still on the "i'm afraid of the big bad BSOD" bandwagon from the days of NT4, you may want to invest in better hardware (or better technical skills).

            Every systems engineer worth their weight knows that 99.8% of BSODs are hardware/driver related. They also know how to identify the root cause and completely eliminate any recurrence.
          • Correction!

            Anyone who has ever picked up a keyboard knows this (DSODs).
          • EXACTLY

            It's nearly impossible to tell that to the unwashed masses, though. They always insist it's because "Windows is teh sux0rs!" No, folks, most of the time, it's because the cheap, junk hardware you've installed has shitty drivers that can't pass quality control testing and the makers don't give a damn to update it.
          • Funny...

            The only time I have driver issues is if I fail to block Windows update and it downloads a driver. Fact is yes there are sorry makers but compared to Microsoft in my experience none of them hold a candle to the shitty drivers that MS puts out on a regular basis!
            Kevin Morrison
          • Mmm, No.

            Exchange is not covered under Office. It's tightly tied to Outlook, certainly it works best with Outlook, but it's entirely possible to use Office without Exchange, and vice versa.

            But here's something for you: if you're plagued with BSOD's, you really need to get a handle on the drivers and the software installed in your organization--ESPECIALLY drivers. Once you lock down your systems to use only well tested, certified drivers, 99% of BSOD's go away for good.
          • BSODs?

            Maybe you should take a close evaluation of the types of sites you're visiting, files you're downloading and apps you're installing.
        • history lession... and my humble opinion ;-)

          Microsoft was born out of a uni dorm room back in the early 80's, when 4 class mates combined forces on a project...

          Programming in "C+" (for memory) in a unix enviroment, came up with the first ever GUI.

          May not have been the best use of technology for the day, but it certainly got one you man to the top of the heap so to speak - hats off to Bill Gates and all the good he has done (charity work) since those early days.

          Having said that, I am and have always been a MS user... hate so much of what has been produced over the years, but when large corporations dictate the terms, we are left with little option but to follow.

          I am happy to see there is finally a change in the wind now. For better or worse, it's a change, and for me the jury is still out.

          Call me a lemming if you will but I am patiently watching and waiting to see where the chips fall, before leaping in either direction, as I only want to spend once during this next round of change.
      • Found this interesting article written by our very own MJF

        From the Server and Tools Business alone, we have:
        - Windows Server
        - System Center
        - SQL Server
        - Visual Studio
        - Desktop access business (remote desktop services/desktop virtualization)
        - Enterprise services business (consulting and support)

        In addition, MJF identified these:
        - Windows
        - Office
        - Xbox
        - Unified Communications
        - SharePoint
        - Dynamics (ERP & CRM)
        - online display/search advertising

        On the radar are Office 365 and Azure.

        So I count 13 billion dollar products and 2 more that are either already there, or will be soon.

        Is 13 bigger than 2? How many other tech companies have 13 billion dollar products and how many would be wiped out if, oh, I don't know, their smartphone and tablet cash cows were taken away?
        • of those, only office and windows are "billion dollar" level.

          And office and windows are multi-billion.

          The others are just hangers on. I've yet to actually see an ERP/CRM customer.

          And it took xbox multiple years before MS bought enough market for them.

          sharepoint had to be given away for the longest time before the lockin was enough to force a market.
          And Bing hasn't yet paid for itself.
          • Got it

            So these aren't billion dollar products because jessepollard says they aren't and MS is lying to shareholders but the SEC is just too busy to look into it.
          • Errrr....

            Just love the way you spew out what you believe are facts but no proof.
            Sharepoint given for free? News to just about everyone. Web link?
            "And it took xbox multiple years before MS bought enough market for them." So you're saying they also gave away the XBox for free?