Microsoft Readies Next Release Of Intune Remote PC Management Service

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Microsoft is readying the next release of its on-demand Windows Intune remote desktop PC management service, adding the ability to manage third-party applications in addition to Microsoft software.

Microsoft also is sweetening the incentives it offers partners to sell the Intune service.

At its Worldwide Partner Conference that starts today in Los Angeles, Microsoft revealed a beta version of the new Intune release is now available. The company is shooting to make the full release generally available by the end of the calendar year, said Alex Heaton, director of Windows Intune product management, in a pre-conference interview.

The announcement, coming less than four months after Intune first went live, means that Microsoft is making good on its promise to roll out updates to its cloud computing products on an accelerated schedule, as do such competitors as Google and

"We've staffed up to do more frequent releases of Intune," Heaton said. "We're really committed to rapid releases."

While businesses can use Intune to manage desktop PCs in-house, solution providers – especially those expanding into managed services – are the primary audience for the Intune service, Heaton said. There has been "strong adoption among partners" of Intune since it went live March 23, but he did not provide specific sales figures.

Partners who sell the Intune service earn 12 percent of the value of a contract's first year and 6 percent of subsequent years.

Microsoft is changing the way the compensation plan works, however, so that partners get paid more quickly. Until now the 12 percent was paid in quarterly increments over a year. Now partners will get the full 12 percent commission up front in the first quarter of a signed contract, Heaton said. Payments of the 6 percent commission for subsequent years, however, will still be paid quarterly.

Heaton said Windows Intune offers partners other business opportunities, including the ability to upgrade customers using older Windows releases to Windows 7. The Intune service includes Windows 7 upgrade rights.

"There's a lot of ways partners can make money with Windows Intune," Heaton said.

As an added incentive, partners can now earn up to 50 percent of the value of a first-year Intune contract if the solution provider signs a new customer to an enterprise agreement that includes Intune and the partner helps deploy the service.

Microsoft is also increasing the number of free Intune licenses partners can use internally, from 10 to 25 under the Cloud Essentials program and from 25 to 100 under the Cloud Accelerate program. "This is in direct response to partner requests," Heaton said.

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