Microsoft is readying its Windows Intune cloud service for general availability in October.
Microsoft plans on releasing the next version of Windows
Intune, its cloud-based IT management platform for midsize businesses, Oct. 17.
The new release will include features present in the July
2011 beta, including the ability to remotely scan PCs from the administration
console, give administrators read-only access to view PC information, and more
options for reporting. The new release also gives IT pros the ability to
distribute updates or applications via the Internet.
Microsoft plans on concluding the Intune beta service Nov.
17, after which customers will need to subscribe to the new version. Current
Intune customers will receive an automatic upgrade.
"Each update we make to Windows Intune is based on the
previous version," Alex Heaton, a spokesperson for Microsoft, wrote in a Sept.
6 posting on the Windows
for Your Business Blog
, "so customers will always get the latest features
regardless of when the service was purchased."
In addition to cloud-based services and PC management tools,
Intune also offers a Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade subscription, in theory
allowing businesses to upgrade all their hardware to the same operating system.
Since its release in October 2009, Windows 7 has enjoyed significant uptake by
consumers and businesses, with Microsoft running a series of promotions and
deals designed to boost sales among the latter.
For the past several quarters, Microsoft has made a show of
wholeheartedly embracing an "all in" cloud strategy. That involves selling
businesses on subscription-based services such as Intune and Office 365, in
place of "traditional" boxed software. However, the latter continues to fuel a
substantial portion of Microsoft's bottom line. The increased decentralization
of the corporate environment, with many workers communing with a home office
via smartphone and ultra-portable tablets, is also contributing towards the
slow-but-steady drive into the cloud. Microsoft faces significant competition
in this online arena from the likes of Google and Salesforce.
The Intune service costs $11 per PC per month. Earlier in
2011, Endpoint Technologies Associates analyst Roger Kay wrote
that price would lead to "limited" uptake, suggesting that Microsoft "is trying
to bill for values, like encryption management, not yet clear to the target
market." (Kay acknowledged his firm consults for Microsoft.)
"At $11, the customer's three-year cash outlay would be
worth $396, far more than the list price, $75, for Windows 7 professional," he
added. "Even discounting the value of the stream of $11 payments at a generous
5 [percent] yields, a net present value of $182.02 over three years, [it's]
more than twice the purchase cost."
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