Microsoft Intune Adds Multi-identity Support for Office iOS Apps

Users no longer have to juggle their work or personal accounts when using select Office apps on their iPhones and iPads.

Office apps on iPhone

Microsoft is making it easier for businesses to embrace the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement and work styles that blend both personal and work app use.

In a nod to the consumerization of IT, Microsoft is issuing an update to Intune, the company's cloud-based PC and mobile management platform. In the wake of booming mobile device adoption in the workplace, enterprises have been grappling with the challenges of supporting apps used in both personal and professional settings. Between now and July 2, Microsoft is eliminating some of the friction personal apps can cause between administrators and users, at least in terms of its own Office apps.

In a June 22 advisory, the Microsoft Intune Team announced that Office users with iPhones and iPads will soon be able to seamlessly switch between profiles. Among the new features is multi-identity support "for Word, PowerPoint and OneDrive apps for iOS devices, enabling users to access both their personal and work accounts in the same Office mobile apps while Intune mobile application management policies are only applied to the user's work account." An updated Excel app is pending approval in the Apple App Store, they noted.

After the update is applied, the Company Portal app for iOS will display a notification when updated versions of managed apps are available at the app store. Both changes apply to the stand-alone version of Intune and the hybrid implementation with System Center Configuration Manager.

Intune stand-alone also gains the ability to install Windows Store (.appx) apps directly from the Intune Company Portal Website, a capability already offered for hybrid System Center Configuration Manager customers. On the data security front, an updated Endpoint Protection agent helps administrators keep Windows PCs virus-free. The Intune console will also soon display malware-infected file paths, helping administrators monitor the effectiveness of their IT security measures.

As announced earlier, Microsoft is bringing the Acompli-based Outlook mobile apps under the Intune mobile application management umbrella.

Customers of the stand-alone Intune offering—also available as part of Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS)—"now have the ability to restrict access to the Outlook app based upon device enrollment and compliance policies and can restrict actions such as cut, copy, paste and 'save as' of corporate data between the Intune-managed Outlook app and apps not managed by Intune," announced the Intune group. The Outlook apps also gain multi-identity support for easier switching between personal and work email accounts.

The Outlook apps for iOS and Android were released earlier this year, shortly after the software giant acquired San Francisco-based mobile email startup Acompli on Dec. 1, 2014, for an undisclosed amount. As part of the Microsoft's "mobile-first" push, Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of Outlook and Office 365, said in a statement at the time that the "acquisition is part of our company-wide effort to help people accomplish more with their mobile devices."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...