Windows Intune Subscription Terms: 12-Month Lock In?

Windows Intune Subscription Terms: 12-Month Lock In?

Microsoft's latest Windows Intune release arrived this week with mobile device management (MDM) capabilities for Windows Phone 7, Google Android and Apple iOS devices. But Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC management tool, also has some limitations for MSPs -- including a minimum 12-month user commitment.

According to Microsoft's Windows Intune FAQ:

"The Windows Intune subscription term is annual, though payments are made monthly. During month 2 through the end of the initial subscription, customers can request to discontinue their service, but they will be responsible for paying for the entire initial 12-month subscription."
That reads a bit like a cell phone contract: Even if you want or need to walk away from Windows Intune you and your customers really can't during the first 12 months.

Times Have Changed

For many managed services providers (MSPs), I suspect Windows Intune's cloud licensing agreement is a potential deal breaker. The reasons:
  • MSPs have spent the past decade migrating away from long-term licensing requirements and shelfware agreements that had lofty user requirements or extended timing stipulations.
  • A growing list of MSP software providers now offer pay-as-you-go approaches, and MSPs can cancel their subscriptions at any point. The same is true for a growing list of cloud services for MSPs and small business customers.
Even if MSPs and customers rave about Windows Intune, Microsoft's subscription model needs refinement. Plus, most MSPs now need cross-platform management tools that include Linux and Mac OS X support. Here again, Windows Intune can't make the grade.

Still, many MSPs grew up in the Windows Server market. Some of those loyal Microsoft channel partners will give Windows Intune a close look. But I suspect many established and aspiring MSPs will object to Microsoft's 12-month subscription requirement. MSPs want freedom of choice... not 12-month lock in.

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