Microsoft: Windows Intune Still On Track for 2011 Release

Microsoft: Windows Intune Still On Track for 2011 Release

No news is good news. That's essentially the statement from David Kays, director of software development for Windows Intune -- a SaaS-based remote management platform for Windows PCs and mobile devices. On the one hand, Kays says he doesn't have anything new to publicly share. But on the other hand, Kays says Windows Intune is still on track for 2011 delivery. Plus, I suspect we may get more updates during the Microsoft Management Summit (March 21-25, Las Vegas). Here's why.

When Windows Intune arrives, Microsoft says the cloud-based service will allow channel partners and corporate IT managers to:

  • Manage software updates across Windows PCs
  • Protect PCs from malware
  • Proactively monitor PCs
  • Provide remote assistance
  • Track hardware and software inventory
  • Set security policies
Windows Intune will cost $11 per computer per month, CNet has reported. Overall, I think Windows Intune could be a very promising development for VARs and MSPs that are seeking simplified PC management.

Potential Concerns

But I've also got some concerns.

First, Windows Intune is really Microsoft-centric. For the most part, I believe most MSPmentor readers are cross-platform MSPs -- supporting mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Linux), desktops (Mac and Windows), servers (Linux and Windows) and now cloud monitoring (Amazon, Rackspace, BPOS, etc.). Just a hunch, but I suspect Windows Intune may eventually expand to support at least the Mac. But I don't have any proof to back up that strong hunch.

My other concern/question: Will the Windows Intune pricing model work for VARs and MSPs? At $11 per user per month, can VARs and MSPs carve out any margin for themselves?

Finally, do VARs and MSPs really want yet another remote management tool when many channel partners have already embraced MSP-centric RMM (remote monitoring and management) software.

I think we'll start to get some answers to those questions during the Microsoft Management Summit, scheduled for March 21-25 in Las Vegas. Check the agenda and you'll see how Windows Intune fits within Microsoft's broader management strategy.

Microsoft: Mastering the Cloud?

I know plenty of VARs and MSPs remain wary of Microsoft's cloud strategy. But I've got to admit: I'm warming up to it and I think Microsoft really is listening to partner feedback.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online just launched on a worldwide basis. And there are also signs that Microsoft Channel Chief Jon Roskill is working to address cloud billing concerns that some channel partners have. Plus, third-party channel partners like VAR Dynamics are helping solutions providers to launch their own Microsoft-centric cloud platforms.

Admittedly, Microsoft still faces plenty of cloud hurdles. It's clear to me that Google Apps is catching on with a growing number of MSPs. And the forthcoming Office 365 cloud pricing model has made some partners nervous. Plus, cloud tools like Windows Intune remain far too Microsoft-centric (at least in my opinion).

All that said, Microsoft's cloud R&D efforts are undeniable; the company is looking to fill 144 cloud positions right now. And I expect more Windows Intune updates at the Microsoft Management Summit.

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