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Windows Intune To Launch at Microsoft Management Summit

Windows Intune, Microsoft's cloud-based systems management tool that will give midsize IT departments without Software Assurance agreements a back door into some formerly exclusive SA benefits, will formally launch on March 23, according to a Microsoft blog post Monday.

Wrote Gavriella Schuster on the Windows for your Business Blog, the launch at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas will mean commercial availability in 36 countries and availability of a 30-day trial version

"Windows Intune builds on our history of delivering cloud services at scale, including Hotmail and Windows Update, and leverages Microsoft's cloud experience with Azure, Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 to give our customers the best Windows experience possible by providing the tools IT professionals need to ensure their employees can be productive and secure from virtually anywhere," Schuster said.

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.

With Windows Intune, administrators load a client onto the 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 and the Enterprise, Ultimate and Business versions of Windows Vista. Volume discounts will be available for implementations of 250 seats or more, and customers with SA will also get discounts.

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

The March 23 trial version will mark the first opportunity for many users to get their hands on the product -- the two betas in 2010 were limited affairs. The Beta 1 release in April saw its 1,000 slots oversubscribed within 24 hours, while the Beta 2 release in July had all of its 10,000 openings taken by September.

Windows Intune will be commercially available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The second beta will expire on April 18.

About the Author

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

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