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Sources: Microsoft Mulled AirWatch Buy To Bolster Mobile Device Management Portfolio

Microsoft is reportedly planning to unveil a mobile device management bundle for enterprises, but sources said the software giant missed its chance to acquire a star player in MDM.

Microsoft is preparing to roll out a bundle of products called Enterprise Mobility Suite and plans to pitch it to enterprises that need to manage Windows Phones, iOS and Android mobile devices, according to a report Wednesday from ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.

But a few months ago, Microsoft was prepared to make a much bigger move to bolster its mobile device management portfolio, CRN has learned.

Microsoft was talking with mobile device management vendor AirWatch when VMware made its successful $1.5 billion bid to acquire it in January, several sources familiar with the matter told CRN. VMware closed that deal in February.

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Yammer, the enterprise social networking startup Microsoft acquired for $1.2 billion in 2012, included some integration with AirWatch, and sources said Microsoft has made changes to that product as a result of the VMware acquisition.

Both Microsoft and VMware declined comment.

After missing out on AirWatch, Microsoft is now focusing on Enterprise Mobility Suite, which ZDNet describes as a licensing bundle consisting of Windows Intune, a paid version of Azure Active Directory with advanced features, and Azure Rights Management Services.

Sources told CRN Microsoft is considering charging $4 per user monthly for Enterprise Mobility Suite, a price that would allow customers to use the software on multiple devices. This would be significantly cheaper than AirWatch and other mobile device management vendors that use per-device pricing, sources said.

AirWatch, which VMware is touting as a "Switzerland-like" technology that can manage any type of mobile device, would have fit well with Microsoft's devices and services transformation, sources said.

"Microsoft knows they have problems with mobile device management," one partner told CRN. "They’ve been at Windows Intune for years now and, as far as I can tell, have made no significant progress on total device numbers or inroads with managed service providers, which would have been the perfect target group."

Microsoft will unveil Enterprise Mobility Suite at a press conference Thursday in San Francisco, where it's also expected to debut its long-awaited version of Office for iPad, ZDNet reported.

The mobile device management space heated up last year as Citrix acquired Zenprise and IBM acquired Fiberlink, and many industry watchers expect further consolidation in the segment.

MobileIron is one of the big names still out there, but the emergence of the Enterprise Mobility Suite suggests Microsoft has chosen to bundle rather than buy, sources said.


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