Microsoft Beefs Up Reporting, Management In Windows Intune Update

Windows Intune 2.0, the first update to a product Microsoft launched seven months ago, reflects today's widening workplace boundaries and can manage PCs no matter where their users may be located.

The Windows Intune 2.0 update can remotely carry out malware scans, update malware definitions or restart PCs. The update also includes a software distribution feature that allows IT administrators to deliver any type of software to PCs via the cloud, including Microsoft and third party applications.

"You can upload any .MSI or .EXE file into the Intune service, then we encrypt it and you can then push it down to any PC," Eric Main, Microsoft's newly anointed director of Windows Intune product management, said in an interview.

For reporting purposes, Windows Intune 2.0 automatically pulls in third party software license agreements as well as those from Microsoft, allowing administrators to keep tabs on all of their applications from a single console, Main said.

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Also new is a read-only access mode that lets other users view the administration console without being able to make any changes. Main said this is valuable from a partner perspective because it allows customers to see what applications are running in the environment and compare that with the licenses they own, and it also helps procurement departments.

Advanced hardware reporting in the Windows Intune update gives users a "much more granular view" of the PCs running in their environments and what's running on those machines, according to Main. For example, this feature can determine what model of PC is running and how much free disk space it has available.

Windows Intune uses the same update engine as Windows Update and the same antimalware engine as Microsoft's Forefront Endpoint and Security Essentials products. Remote management and reporting is handled by Microsoft's Asset Inventory Service, part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP).

Windows Intune is priced at $11 per PC per month and also includes upgrade rights to Windows 7 Enterprise. As is the case with Office 365, partners that drive Windows Intune purchases receive 12 percent of the first year's fees and 6 percent on an ongoing basis.

Under a promotion that’s slated to run until June 30, 2012, partners that have a new Windows Client Enterprise Agreement will receive 50 percent of the first year's fees for Windows Intune.