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New Windows Intune Service Starts on October 17

Microsoft plans to begin serving up a new version of its Windows Intune management service for PCs on Oct. 17, calling it the "general availability" version.

This release succeeds a beta version of the service that was launched in July at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. That beta will expire on Nov. 17, one month after Microsoft starts the new service. There will be no upgrade path from the beta to the general release version. Beta users should remove the client software and restore computers to their pre-beta state, according to Alex Heaton, director of product management for Windows Intune, in a blog post on Tuesday.

The release date is relatively early given that Microsoft had previously promised only that the update would arrive before the end of the year. The launch will arrive about seven months after the initial release of Windows Intune in March. As a Web service, Windows Intune will be automatically upgraded for existing customers within a few weeks of Oct. 17.

The key feature of this new release of Windows Intune is software distribution, according to Heaton.

"With this release, administrators can deploy most Microsoft and third-party updates or applications to PCs nearly anywhere over the Internet," Heaton wrote. The software distribution does not include Windows, however.

Other new features include the ability for IT to perform remote tasks, such as full scan, quick scan, update malware definition and restart. IT pros and partners can give select users or customers read-only access to the administration console. Finally, Microsoft added some reporting enhancements to this version of Windows Intune.

Customers of Windows Intune will be using another Microsoft cloud service under the hood. The October release of Windows Intune will use Microsoft Azure for software distribution. When administrators load software distribution packages, Windows Intune will leverage Microsoft's Azure infrastructure to stage them and distribute them to client systems.

Windows Intune provides systems management and security for business versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, as well as upgrade rights to Windows 7 Enterprise, in the list price of $11 per user per month. A $1-per-month option brings access to the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, a suite of enterprise-level tools.

Organizations that already have licensing agreements with Microsoft that include the Software Assurance option have access to discounts when subscribing to Windows Intune.

"For customers whose devices are already covered by Windows Client Software Assurance (SA), a credit for up to half of the Windows Intune price is available," a Microsoft spokesperson explained via e-mail. "Customers can find out exact pricing based on their contract from their Microsoft partner or account team."

About the Author

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

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