Windows Intune Rounds Out Microsoft Cloud Services

With Windows Intune's availability, Redmond's cloud lineup for partners spans the back office, CRM, systems management and Infrastructure as a Service.

Late last month, Microsoft launched Windows Intune, giving partners one more major cloud-based product to offer customers.

Windows Intune, the Microsoft cloud-based systems-management tool for midsize company IT departments or managed services providers, was set to be formally launched at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas on March 23.

With the launch, Windows Intune was made commercially available in 36 countries and in a 30-day trial version.

Windows Intune is a cloud-based version of the desktop-management capabilities customers could previously get by deploying technologies such as the desktop malware protection and reporting of Microsoft Forefront Protection Suite and the update management and hardware/software/licensing inventory capabilities of Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 or Microsoft System Center Essentials.

Administrators load a Windows Intune client onto desktops and use a browser to access the management software and tools in the cloud for managing and securing the desktops.

Microsoft officials have said the tool will cost $11 per user per month, a price that includes Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade rights for as long as the subscription lasts. Windows Intune also manages Windows XP Professional, plus the Enterprise, Ultimate and Business versions of Windows Vista. Volume discounts will be available for implementations of 250 seats or more, and customers with Software Assurance (SA) will also get discounts.

A $1-per-month upgrade provides access to the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), which is normally reserved for SA customers. The MDOP includes the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset, Advanced Group Policy Management, Application Virtualization, Enterprise Desktop Virtualization and System Center Desktop Error Monitoring.

As Microsoft has begun building cloud computing programs for its partners over the last few months, the company has left prominent placeholders for Windows Intune in the programs. For example, partners who sign up for the free Cloud Essentials Pack are promised rights to use Windows Intune to manage 10 devices internally when it becomes available, along with internal-use rights for currently available products such as 250 seats of the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), 250 seats of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and compute, storage and transaction resources for Windows Azure.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.