December 17 is the date that the promised new features, including the ability to manage Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 devices, are available to those purchasing Windows Intune directly. But existing customers cannot upgrade until after January 13, 2013, I am hearing. (Those with Enterprise Agreements can apply to get the update earlier, through a private Technology Adoption Program, supposedly.)
I asked the Intune team on December 18 if the fourth version -- known inside as "Wave D" -- had been released. A spokesperson confirmed it, via an e-mailed response:
"We can confirm that Windows Intune has been updated with new capabilities. We will have more to share about these updates in January."
"There are a few gaps to close in Wave D, and it’s not going toe-to-toe with other MDM vendors on features in this release, but moving to agents significantly closes the feature war for the next release, because EAS just isn’t capable of bundling in new features, while an agent should be able to," said Wiedower. "Android sadly is still relegated to EAS for this release, but we hope it’ll be agent-based in Wave E.
"Most customers who were on Office 365 or other hosted Exchange platforms could never use EAS to manage mobile devices, so this is a huge win for customers who are mostly 'in the cloud' and looking to leverage Intune. We’ve had a few deals go south because a customer can’t install the Intune EAS server in a hoster’s datacenter. Now that problem (excluding Android) is a thing of the past," Wiedower added.
The aforementioned Microsoft spokesperson said that while EAS still can be used to provide "baseline configuration settings" with the latest Intune release, the latest version of Intune uses "native management APIs in Windows RT, Windows Phone 8, and iOS which are not based on EAS."
Windows Intune, when it debuted in 2011, was a PC-management and security service (as opposed to a PC and device management service). It was codenamed "Florida," and was the realization of the never-delivered System Center Online Desktop Manager product.