Microsoft Shares Early Look at Next Version of Windows Intune Cloud Service

At its Microsoft Management Summit, the software giant shared details of the next version of Windows Intune, the company’s cloud-based management solution.

At the Microsoft Management Summit, the company shared an early look at some of the updates and new features it is working on for the next release of Windows Intune, along with news of other key Microsoft management technologies.

At the event, Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft€™s Management and Security Division, delivered a keynote including an update on Windows Intune. Windows Intune is Microsoft€™s cloud-based management solution that provides tools, reports and an upgrade license to the latest version of Windows to help keep organizations€™ PCs up-to-date and secure from virtually anywhere. In the next release of Windows Intune, Microsoft will expand management and security benefits to cover mobile devices and add people-centric management capabilities. Windows Intune helps enterprises deal with the issues of consumerization and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend.

In an April 18 blog post on the news, Eric Main, director of product marketing for Windows Intune, said, €œWe focused on these areas of development for the next release because customers have been telling us that device proliferation is one of the most pressing challenges they€™re facing in their business, and we saw an opportunity to help with Windows Intune.€

Added Main:

These new features will help businesses keep costs low and simplify management by offering one cloud-based solution for both PC and mobile-device management. More and more users are bringing their own devices into the workplace, including smartphones and tablets. Whether corporate or user-owned, one of our goals with Windows Intune is to help manage and secure mobile devices without adding onerous cost and complexity. Staying true to this goal, the price of Windows Intune will remain the same at $11 U.S. per PC, per month, even though we€™re adding the ability to also manage up to four mobile devices per seat.

Moreover, the next release of Windows Intune will integrate with Windows Server Active Directory and Microsoft Exchange Server, allowing IT to manage the many devices brought into the workplace, even if they€™re not owned by the organization, Main said.

€œIT will also be able to use Windows Intune to set security policies for mobile devices and enforce password protection, encryption and even kick off a remote wipe if a device is compromised,€ he said. €œWindows Intune€™s mobile-device management will support any device with Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync capabilities, including Windows Phone, iOS and Android.€

In addition, like Office 365, the next release of Windows Intune will offer the ability to manage user accounts with accounts created in the Windows Azure Active Directory, so that IT can provide users with software personalized to their role, ensuring they have the tools they need to be productive. IT will also be able to link on-site Windows Server Active Directory to the Windows Azure Active Directory service so that user accounts and security groups can be synchronized with Windows Intune, allowing IT to easily manage users and devices, Main said.

Microsoft is taking the technology even further to offer a self-service, customizable company portal that is simple to create and will allow IT to provide employees with the apps and tools they need to stay productive, Main said. With this capability, IT staff can target the portal to user profiles, and employees can access it through a range of mobile devices, including Windows PCs, iOS and Android devices.

€œThis enables IT to post apps that users might want to use, rather than push out to their PCs,€ Main said. €œWhen a user arrives at the portal, they will see all of the available apps ready for download. As with previous releases, the next release of Windows Intune will include upgrade rights to the latest version of Windows as part of the monthly subscription. This enables IT to standardize on the most up-to-date version of the OS, reducing costs while keeping Windows-based PCs up-to-date and secure from virtually anywhere.€

Microsoft is offering a limited opportunity to try out some key features coming in the next release, including the self-service company portal. Users also can sign up for a free 30-day trial or purchase the service and receive updates to the next release when it becomes commercially available.