Microsoft releases Intune cloud-based PC tools

A new suite of cloud-based tools will make managing a company's computers more convenient for IT administrators, according to Microsoft
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Microsoft has launched its new cloud-based suite of management tools, called Intune, which is designed to make managing an organisation's computers easier, the company said on Wednesday.

Microsoft Intune

Microsoft has launched Intune, its new cloud-based suite of management tools for IT administrators. Photo credit: Microsoft

Launched at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Windows Intune provides IT administrators with a web-based console — accessible via any browser with Microsoft Silverlight support — that allows them to manage updates, malware protection, and track hardware and software deployments within the organisation.

Intune also provides tools to set company-wide security policies, provide remote assistance and proactively monitor computers connected to the network, Microsoft said.

Intune is all about bringing PC management to the cloud, but also about simplifying how you manage and secure Windows PCs.
– James Lockyer, Intune product manager

"Intune is all about bringing PC management to the cloud, but also about simplifying how you manage and secure Windows PCs," James Lockyer, Intune product manager, told ZDNet UK ahead of the launch.

The minimum contract length is 12 months and the service costs £7.25 per computer, per month. Microsoft also offers a bulk discount for organisations that need more than 250 licences.

Customers who sign up to the Intune service that already have a business version of Windows XP or Vista will also be able to take advantage of a free upgrade to the Windows 7 Enterprise licence.

If these customers then decide not to continue the service at the end of the contract period, they will have the option of uninstalling the client licence or alternatively switching to a different licensing model, Lockyer said.

Beta versions

Intune is similar to Microsoft's existing System Center product, and in some cases can perform similar tasks. However, it is currently unable to handle operating system distribution (OSD) and other software deployment tasks.

Prior to release, in April 2010, Intune was made available as a US-only beta that saw the software tested by around 1,000 businesses. A second beta followed that included approximately 450 UK organisations.

Lockyer said that Intune is ideal for companies with unmanaged computers, a large mobile workforce or businesses that have been going through a lot of acquisitions.

The move is a part of Microsoft's shift towards offering cloud-based technologies, which have become increasingly popular for their scalability and cost benefits.

In October, Microsoft launched a beta of Office 365, a cloud-based suite of tools that incorporates much of the key functionality of the desktop version of Microsoft Office.

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