Microsoft Surface Tablets: Mobile Device Management Ready?

Microsoft Surface Tablets: Mobile Device Management Ready?

When Microsoft unveiled two Surface tablets today, the launches begged the mobile device management (MDM) question. CIOs want well-managed fleets of mobile devices. And Microsoft (armed with Surface tablets, Ultrabooks, Windows Intune and Microsoft System Center) could make a lot of noise in the market going forward.

For managed services providers (MSPs), Microsoft continues to represent opportunities and challenges. Demand for managed services tied to Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Lync Server continues to grow, MSPmentor believes.

But in the mobile world, a growing number of MSPs have been introducing MDM solutions for Apple iOS (iPad, iPhone) and Google Android smartphones and tablets. Also, MSP and VAR peer groups such as HTG have been training -- or at least educating -- members on Apple platforms.

Within the managed services market, I don't believe Microsoft has been part of the MDM conversation. That could change if the Surface tablets and sister devices -- Windows 8 ultrabooks -- deliver a great user experience while linking into to systems management software.

Microsoft Surface Debuts

Microsoft unveiled the Surface tablets today at an event in Hollywood. The company claims Surface tablets "feature significant advances in industrial design and attention to detail. Surface is designed to seamlessly transition between consumption and creation, without compromise. It delivers the power of amazing software with Windows and the feel of premium hardware in one exciting experience."

Surface supports a full-sized USB port, a 16:9 aspect ratio, VaporMg (a finish akin to a luxury watch), an integrated kickstand, and a touch-based keyboard cover (called Touch Cover). One surface model features an ARM processor and Windows RT; the other has a third-generation Intel core processor and Windows 8 Pro. Watch for potential releases this fall or so. Both tablets will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores. Pricing was not announced.

Mobile Device Management?

The Surface tablet launch sounds more like a consumer event rather than a corporate IT event. I have not heard any mention (so far) of Windows Intune, a cloud-based device management platform for Windows PCs, Android and Apple iOS devices. Nor have I heard Microsoft System Center mentioned.

But you can bet in the weeks and months ahead, CIOs and small business executives will start asking whether Surface devices can be managed and secured. MSPs better come to the conversation armed with answers.

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