Microsoft will be making generally available on October 18 the latest updates to a number of its products and services — Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Visual Studio 2013, System Center 2012 R2, and Windows Intune.
Of these new deliverables, the one about which the Softies have said very little publicly, at least in my opinion, is the new version of Windows Intune.
Intune, in case you need a quick refresher, is Microsoft's device-management and security service, which Microsoft initially launched back in 2011. Intune "Wave D" was finalized in December 2012 and made widely available earlier this year. Wave D provided the foundation for users to manage Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Windows RT, and other Microsoft and non-Microsoft devices.
The new version, which should be codenamed "Wave E" if Microsoft sticks with current naming conventions, is more tightly integrated with the next version of Microsoft's Configuration Manager product — known as Configuration Manager 2012 R2, which is part of System Center 2012 R2. Microsoft is not releasing System Center 2012 R2 to manufacturing, but will make it generally available to existing customers as of October 18, and to brand-new customers starting November 1.
Microsoft actually began upgrading existing Windows Intune users to the latest release starting September 23. This is a phased upgrade, starting with European users first, then North American users and finally existing Asian Pacific customers. All existing Intune users should be on the new service as of October 18, according to Microsoft's plan. (Users will receive a notification alert in their Administration Consoles one week ahead of their scheduled upgrades. Upgrades include a downtime of 10 hours, according to the Softies.)
In June of this year, Microsoft detailed a few of the new features coming to the latest version of Intune. Last month, company officials posted a few more of the new Intune features coming with the latest release. These include but aren't limited to:
- Support for Windows 8.1 enrollment
- Ungrouped Devices Group added back to identify newly enrolled machines. After changing this functionality in the Wave D release, creating problems for a number of Intune users who couldn't easily identify newly enrolled machines, this group and its functionality are making a comeback.
- New Agent Policy Settings. There are two new settings: Windows Intune client agent mandatory updates installation schedule and Install Endpoint Protection (the option for IT pros who may wish to use or not use Intune Endpoint Protection on their devices)
- Unified device management across PCs and mobile devices from both cloud and on-premises. This is an option for those shops that have System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager and connect it with their Intune subscriptions