Microsoft: This is how Windows RT, Windows Phone 8 devices will be managed

Microsoft: This is how Windows RT, Windows Phone 8 devices will be managed

Summary: The early 2013 of Microsoft's Windows Intune, plus System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1, are keys to the ARM-based device management kingdom.


Ever since it revealed that ARM-based Windows RT PCs and tablets would not be able to join Active Directory domains, Microsoft has been keeping users in suspense as to how Windows RT devices would be able to be managed.


On September 10, Microsoft officials finally shared a few more details about its plans.

The next version of Windows Intune, Microsoft's PC management and security service, coupled with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack (SP) 1, will be the way administrators will be able to manage Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 devices both, according to a new post on the Microsoft "Server & Cloud" blog.

From that post:

"Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT devices will be managed by the next release of Windows Intune. IT Pros will have the flexibility of using either the Windows Intune or Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 console to set mobile security policies, distribute mobile apps and view reports."

Before today, Microsoft officials declined to discuss exact timing for the next version (the fourth release) of Windows Intune. (The third version of Intune, which doesn't support Windows 8 or Windows RT, was released in June 2012.) The currently available Windows Intune release does not support Windows 8 or Windows RT. But in Microsoft's new blog post, officials said that the next Intune release would be out by early 2013.

Officials did share some of the coming changes in licensing it is planning to impement for the next Windows Intune release, however. Here's the team's list of what's coming on that front:

  • Microsoft will shift from a per-device to a per-user licensing model, with each user license for Windows Intune covering up to 5 managed devices.
  • There will be a Windows Intune user license that includes the rights to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, enabling organizations to manage those devices through either Windows Intune or Configuration Manager, or both.
  • Organizations that already own System Center 2012 Configuration Manager licenses, such as through the Core CAL (Client Access License), will have access to Windows Intune at "a reduced price."
  • Microsoft will add a version of Windows Intune that won't provide upgrade rights to Windows Enterprise.  This newer version without the Enterprise upgrade rights will be available at a lower cost that Microsoft is not yet sharing publicly.

"Further details on pricing will be provide at a later date," according to today's blog post.

Microsoft made the public beta of System Center 2012 SP1 available to testers on September 10. It's available via the Microsoft Download Center. The final version Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 is due out in early 2013, Microsoft officials said today.

Up to this point, System Center 2012 Configuration Manager has been Microsoft's solution for on-premises management, and Windows Intune for management through the cloud. With the next version of Intune and SP1 for Configuration Manager 2012, Microsoft is taking "the first step in delivering interoperability between these products through Configuration Manager’s administration console." This means customers will be able to add mobile devices managed with Windows Intune to their System Center console "and manage all the devices through one tool," explained the Softies in today's blog post.

Today's blog post doesn't share any new or additional details on the new, integrated management client that can communicate with a management infrastructure in the cloud. This new management client was something Microsoft officials said back in April 2012 that would coming at some unspecified later date. I've asked Microsoft if there are further details on this, but am expecting the answer is no. (If it's not, I'll update this post once I hear back.)

Update: One of my readers wonders whether the client/agent piece mentioned above might be the Windows Intune monitoring agent. Maybe... If so, will this be integrated into the Windows RT OS already? A Metro-style app that will be downloadable? A Desktop add-in? We don't know.

Windows Intune is based on an Exchange ActiveSync model. Earlier this year, my ZDNet UK colleague Mary Branscombe speculated that Windows Intune would be the crux of Microsoft's management strategy for Windows RT devices.

Topics: ARM, Smartphones, Tablets, PCs, Windows


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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  • This Will Be Music...

    Into the ears of system administrators.

    Chances are that both Apple and Google will have to take this seriously and provide better tools to support corporate deployments. They won't leave Microsoft play alone in this field.
  • I have no idea if my workplace supports windows intune

    or how fast they might upgrade to the new version that would support RT and WP8. that's yet another thing that makes me not interested in either system.

    W8 still looks nice on x86, but there's no way I'd go for an RT device. I'd sooner get an android tablet.
    • This article has nothing to do with you

      This article is about enterprises that want to purchase RT devices to provide employees (as thin clients using RDP on the road, for example). This addresses how those devices will be managed by the corporate house.

      This has nothing to do with your own personal devices, even if you bring them in. Unless your IT department is VERY forward-thinking in it's BYOD (bring your own device) policy, then they won't be supporting your device in Intune. So, this article is irrelevant to you and has no bearing one way or the other on buying an RT device.

      Oh, and just to note, an android tablet or iPad wouldn't be supported either. ;-)
      • RDP

        Most orgs that allow remote working either allow a) RDP from anything to a company computer, or b) full access that is only allowed if the client is a locked down company computer in the first place.

        So if you're accessing your corporate net via your own device, any RDP app is ok. So you can happily BYOD if all you're going to do is RDP onto a machine inside the firewall.
        • ok then

          this makes some more sense. thanks.
        • Why?

          A regular PC will allow 1 RDP user at a time and a server is depending on the configuration ~3? So depending on the staff compliment, this makes no sense. If you're going to RDP into your own machine, then just use your own machine.
          General C#
          • wtf

            @General C# are you dumb or just ignorant what the fuck is going on?
      • I thought this was the age of BYOD?

        BYOD is certainly standard where I work
        • BYOD is a security nightmare...

          and the more users an organisation has, the bigger the problem. BYOD is much more common in small companies.

          What Windows 8 and Windows RT allows is for the culture of BYOD to be handled properly by the corporate IT. Basically, corporate IT can say "if you want to bring a tablet to work, it has to be one which we will supply". Windows 8 and Windows RT therefore allow for a much more controlled BYOD culture to evolve. If the company provides you with a really nice Surface Pro or Surface RT tablet and possibly a WP8 phone, then you can see exactly what Microsoft's goal is.
      • umm .. almost

        InTune has management capabilities for anything with ActiveSync .. so iPad and Android would be supported by the product at least .. not necessarily IT ; )
      • Enterprises

        The article clearly talks about an Intune license that "won't be upgradeable to Enterprise". That clearly means that this software infrastructure is not intended for "Enterprise only" environments, but for anyone looking to manage their Windows RT devices "centrally".

        Something, that Apple has done already with the Apple Configurator. You may use it to provision and manage your household iDevices, or your company's iDevices etc. Microsoft will lose significant portion of the market it runs after if they not follow.
        • Re: Enterprises

          "The article clearly talks about an Intune license that "won't be upgradeable to Enterprise". That clearly means that this software infrastructure is not intended for "Enterprise only" environments, but for anyone looking to manage their Windows RT devices "centrally".

          They are referring to the Windows 7/8 Enterprise edition that was included with Intune, and now you have the option of not having it. It didn't refer to the enterprise features available in the service.

          And you cannot compare the iOS only Apple Configurator to Intune, which covers x86 and RT devices. Intune is far more capable than Apple Configurator.
  • Intune? WTF

    They are copying everything apple even iTunes which is a stupid name anyway!
    • Intune isn't anything new...

      Intune already exist and I wouldn't be surprised if it was older than iTunes.
    • Thanks for pointing that out (/cynical)

      I had never realized that Apple's name for its personal music (and other media) management system was the same (give or take a letter or two) as Microsoft's name for it's IT administration system for somewhat-managed PCs.

      That Apple's systems for managing "tunes" (aka music) and Microsoft's system for keeping corporate PCs "tuned up" had such similar names wasn't something I'd ever noticed or cared about.

      Obviously the System Center folks must have named this in a fit of jealousy over the success of the iPod/iTunes platform.
    • Wat the heck?

      iTunes and Intune are two completely different products that have nothing to do with each other. iTunes is a music and video service and Intune is an IT device/software management and deployment solution.

      Comparing iTunes and Intunes is like saying that HP (Hewlett Packard) stole the name from BP (British Petroleum), because the names look so similar and both are corporations.
    • For those who can't spell...

      The name of the Apple music service is "iTunes" as in I tune your crap out and I tune into good music.

      The name of the Microsoft IT management service is called "Intune" as in keeping your car in tune. You know, mechanic humor.

      Literacy matters, folks.
    • Really?

      You think the name has anything to do with iTunes?
      Michael Alan Goff
    • And would have guessed that Apple would copy Cisco

      and name it's first cell phone the "iPhone"
      William Farrel
      • But what about Cisco and Costco?

        Those are awfully close. Who copied whom there?