Microsoft's December Intune updates enable Office on iPad app management

Microsoft's latest batch of Intune rollouts includes a number of updates aimed to help companies lock down apps and data on iOS devices.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

On the heels of rolling out a slew of Intune mobile-device-management updates in November, Microsoft is delivering another bumper crop of Intune updates today, December 9.

Interestingly, a number of the Intune updates included in today's batch are focused on providing the content lock-down and management Microsoft has been touting as being central to its Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) mission.

Back in November, Microsoft execs said that they planned to make available some of the necessary Intune pieces for controlling Office on iPad content "in the coming months." (This was after first saying that these updates would be out in Q1 2015.)

Uncharacteristically, Microsoft seems to be making these pieces available sooner rather than later. Windows ITPro's Rod Trent attributes the faster Intune rollout cadence to Intune being rearchitected as a "full, native Azure service."

Here's the full list of what's in the December Intune updates -- rolling out between December 9 and December 12 -- as posted on the Microsoft Intune blog:

  • Ability to restrict access to Exchange Online email based upon device enrollment and compliance policies
  • Management of Office mobile apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) for iOS devices, including ability to restrict actions such as copy, cut, and paste outside of the managed app ecosystem
  • Ability to extend application protection to existing line-of-business apps using the Intune App Wrapping Tool for iOS
  • Managed Browser app for Android devices that controls actions that users can perform, including allow/deny access to specific websites. Managed Browser app for iOS devices currently pending store approval
  • PDF Viewer, AV Player, and Image Viewer apps for Android devices that help users securely view corporate content
  • Bulk enrollment of iOS devices using Apple ConfiguratorAbility to create configuration files using Apple Configurator and import these files into Intune to set custom iOS policies
  • Lockdown of Windows Phone 8.1 devices with Assigned Access mode using OMA-URI settings
  • Ability to set additional policies on Windows Phone 8.1 devices using OMA-URI settings

The Intune updates required to provide similar levels of content management and lock-down on the recently introduced Office for Android offering are still "coming soon," according to today's Intune blog post. Office for Android is now in preview and will be generally available in early 2015.

EMS has three parts: Azure Active Directory Premium, Azure Rights Management services and Intune (the mobile-device management service that until recently was known as Windows Intune.) Currently, EMS is only available as a bundle to large enterprise users with volume plans, though Microsoft execs are hinting that requirement may be relaxed some time relatively soon.

Microsoft has been touting for the past few months that EMS will enable users to protect and manage not just their devices, but also their identity, apps and data across iOS, Android and Windows devices.

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