This article has been contributed by Don Retallack, Analyst at Directions on Microsoft.
Don analyzes and writes about Microsoft’s systems management and security offerings, including System Center and Forefront products.
Several updates to Windows Intune have been made as the online service expands.
Major changes include additional capability to manage mobile devices, expansion of use rights for users with licensed Intune subscriptions, and special grants to use Intune available to users of the Desktop Optimization Pack.
The change benefits organizations that allow employees to access company documents or applications from mobile devices. These organizations can be assured that some level of control and management can be maintained.
Increasing use of mobile devices presents organizations with management challenges such as obtaining inventories of devices and protecting corporate data on the devices. To manage mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets today, Microsoft offers Exchange Server ActiveSync and System Center Configuration Manager, which have some overlapping but mostly differing degrees of management support for a variety of devices.
Windows Intune, Microsoft’s online subscription service that provides PC management, malware protection, and Windows upgrades among other benefits, has been updated to offer mobile device management. A free prerelease of the new version became available for testing in Apr. 2012.
Intune also uses Exchange ActiveSync to provide basic management tasks for a number of platforms and OSs, including devices based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Windows Phone platforms, Android, and iOS. However, they all support ActiveSync to differing degrees, so what can actually be managed is device dependent. Usually devices that support Exchange ActiveSync allow configuration of some settings, and most can be remotely wiped.
Windows Mobile devices are the most manageable using Exchange ActiveSync, and devices based on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7 are the least manageable. Advantages of light device management are that device management is fairly easy, and most devices support some level of Exchange ActiveSync functionality.
In addition to the management features, Intune will allow users to load iOS- and Android-based line-of-business applications to their devices, bypassing public application stores (often called side-loading).
To accommodate the addition of mobile devices, a change in the licensing terms for Windows Intune, announced in the Apr. 2012 Product Use Rights (PUR) document, allows the single primary user of an Intune-licensed device to access the online service and related software from up to four additional eligible devices. An eligible device must have the same primary user and run an embedded OS, for example, Windows Phone 7. For the additional devices, the license does not give rights to Windows upgrades or other benefits that Intune provides for the primary user’s PC.
The Asset Inventory Service (AIS) included in the Desktop Optimization Pack will be discontinued in Apr. 2013. AIS helps inventory software installed on PCs and mobile devices and can help reconcile Microsoft software inventory data with actual purchases. Customers with active AIS subscriptions that were activated through the Volume Licensing Center before Apr. 30, 2012, are eligible to transition to and use the Windows Intune online service, which provides similar inventorying capability as well as other features. To accept this offer, customers must create a trial Intune account and then submit an offer acceptance form.
Intune can be used for devices licensed to use AIS, including those acquired before acceptance of the Intune offer but not those licensed after acceptance. The transitional Intune account does not include some Intune features, such as the right to upgrade to the Windows 7 Enterprise desktop OS. The account expires at the end of the customer’s Desktop Optimization Pack subscription.