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Microsoft Takes a Crack at a Cloud-Based MSP Tool

As Microsoft pushes partners to go "all-in" on the cloud, the company is preparing a new Windows-based PC management offering that partners can sell up there.

Tami Reller, corporate vice president of marketing and CFO of the Windows & Windows Live Division at Microsoft, introduced the second beta of Windows InTune at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference last month. The product is a cloud-based systems management and security tool for use by midmarket IT departments -- and is also a new attempt by Microsoft to get into the market for managed service provider tools for partners.

"Windows InTune ... really helps you help customers manage and secure their PCs, all from the cloud. So, wherever you have access to a Web browser, you can really help customers with this," Reller said during her keynote.

A first beta of the tool back in April reached its limit of 1,000 users in about 24 hours, according to Microsoft officials. This time, Microsoft is allowing up to 10,000 testers to participate.

Partner feedback from the first beta has already changed the tool, Reller said. "One of the most common pieces of feedback we got through the first round of betas was, 'Allow us to see multiple customers. If we're managing multiple customers through Windows InTune, allow us to be more agile and quickly switch between,'" she explained. "So this is a new feature with beta 2.0, and that is to be able to easily switch to another account.

"Windows InTune ... really helps you help customers manage and secure their PCs, all from the cloud."

Tami Reller, Corporate Vice President of Marketing and CFO, Windows & Windows Live Division, Microsoft

"It doesn't matter where these PCs are located," Reller added.

Rollout of the service is currently planned for early 2011. Pricing for Windows InTune is currently set at $11 per PC per month. For an additional $1 per PC per month, Windows InTune users will have access to the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.

About the Author

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

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