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Windows Intune goes mobile with iOS, Android management

It’s Apple and Android’s world, and Microsoft’s just managing it. Admins can use the new Windows Intune to manage iPhones, iPads and Android devices.

Microsoft has finally acknowledged that it’s in its best interests to offer a way to manage Apple and Android devices alongside Windows.

The next version of Windows Intune, Microsoft’s cloud-based desktop management tool, will also manage employee-owned iPads, iPhones and Android devices, in addition to Windows phones and tablets.

The new Intune lets you do more than just manage a laptop.
Thomas CastleberrySkywire Media

It’s a significant move for Microsoft -- especially now, as the company pushes its new generation of Windows phones and tablets.

Some IT administrators have been waiting for a multiplatform mobile management tool from Microsoft and are pleased that the company has finally developed a bring your own device (BYOD) support strategy.

“We’re not a big company, but we have plenty of developers working with multiple phones, like Android and iOS, so this will help us manage our staff much easier,” said Thomas Castleberry, chief operating officer of Skywire Media, a mobile software company that beta tested the new version of Intune.

The new Windows Intune mobile device management (MDM) features don’t strike industry watchers as particularly innovative, though.

“In reality, they’re playing catch-up,” said Brian Katz, director of mobile engineering at Sanofi, a global pharmaceutical company.

Windows Intune mobile management features

Microsoft announced the next version of Windows Intune on Wednesday at the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) in Las Vegas, and a pre-release version is now available for download.

Intune will provide MDM capabilities through Active Directory (AD) and Exchange ActiveSync. It will also help IT and end users deploy applications to mobile devices. In addition, employee-owned devices that aren’t connected to the corporate AD can be deemed “domain trusted,” which will still allow them to access corporate data and apps.

“It’s not just about enabling your users on Windows anymore,” said Brad Anderson, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for management and security, during the MMS keynote. “We are doing deep, deep integration with iOS and Android.”

The next version of Intune will let IT create links to apps within their devices’ respective app stores, and Anderson said it will also allow for the side-loading of apps -- that is, the installation of apps directly from Intune, without going through each device’s app store. Apple does not allow side-loading on iOS; in response to a question about how iOS side-loading will work through Intune, a Microsoft spokesperson cited this passage from the Windows for Your Business blog:

“Windows Intune will offer a self-service, customizable Company Portal that is simple to create and will allow IT to provide employees with the apps and tools they need to stay productive. IT can target the portal to user profiles and employees can access it through a range of mobile devices including Windows PCs, iOS and Android devices.”

When a user logs on to a specific device, Intune will also make certain apps available depending on the device and other predetermined policies. User authentication will go through Windows Azure Active Directory, a cloud service that verifies users outside the corporate firewall while keeping user data inside the firewall.

Castleberry said the new MDM features will address his biggest complaints about Windows Intune: the lack of a mobile management component and limited Active Directory integration. The new application controls for both laptops and mobile devices are also intriguing, he said.

“The new Intune lets you do more than just manage a laptop,” he said, adding that Microsoft’s new commitment to enterprise mobile management should help IT.

Katz said none of the new Intune features really jumped out at him, because other MDM tools let IT do the same kind of app delivery. But, he added, “if you’re a small or medium-sized business, I think (Intune) can make a lot of sense, if you already have it.”

Microsoft, RIM capitalize on MDM

Microsoft’s approach with Intune mirrors that of Research In Motion (RIM), which is also getting into the Apple and Android management game with BlackBerry Mobile Fusion. Windows Phone and BlackBerry are far behind iOS and Android, but Microsoft and RIM have strong enterprise backgrounds, and they see MDM as a way to capitalize on that strength while also taking advantage of the popularity of their competitors.

Meanwhile, neither company offers a way to manage the other’s devices.

Windows Intune is available as a subscription service for $11 per user per month. Microsoft said it will keep that price for the time being and let IT manage up to four devices per user.

Let us know what you think about this story; email Colin Steele and James Furbush, or follow @colinsteele and @jamesfurbush on Twitter.

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Essential Guide

The evolution of Microsoft System Center

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Who’s best positioned in the MDM market?
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RIM is the best
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It's weird that Apple, Microsoft or Google hash`t release a real MDM as RIM did eight years ago.
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Using Mobile Iron
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Like mobileiron
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Microsoft & RIM are playing catch-up. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
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because they are...
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RIM is out of contact with the real world as far as the MDM model. MS is just starting to get into the game. Vendors like Airwatch and MobileIron have real world experience and deployment.
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MDM needs specialized companies to ensure fast updates and independence on opertators, manufacturers and operational systems.
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Microsoft will give most user friendly and sensitive...thanks

Akim Khan
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It all depends on the cost of the feature. With the popularity of Windows Server, Microsoft could be in the best position if the cost is right.
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The Big players on MDM are just entering the arena.... I guess that airwatch, mobileiron and good will have to defend now from aggressive takeover offers...
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First to market will win the race. Microsoft may gain share by offering this as an added benefit withing their hosted environment
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There are a variety of third-party vendors with really great products, i.e., Good Technology and Maas360.
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Microsoft is best positioned due to Microsofts position in the business. These devices need to connect to AD, Exchange, Office, Lync, etc. Microsoft still has the market share of Enterprise applications needing to be access via mobile devices.
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Microsoft
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Look at Zenprise
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Apple does not really want to go Enterprise, do they? RIM has most experience and can do real Handheld administration for the business area.
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I am a bit worried that Microsoft took a wait and see approach to mdm and is joining the race rather a bit late but i am confident they would catch up and offer a solid mdm business solution.
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This is a great move for Microsoft but on the other hand i really don't appreciate Microsoft locking down their Windows phone 7 such that developers will have to pay for a token to gain access to develop apps. There should be a way of allowing for public interference onto this matter, it will not be a bad idea if Microsoft can release a form of Beta OS that would be readily available for download for developers who want to develop for Windows mobile;Just saying. We want more from Microsoft if truly they want to increase their market share in the mobile device market but as for the Intune as a Multi-Platform cloud based mobile device management, it is the way to go .
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Pass
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This is just another capitalization strategy!!!!
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MDM market is full of third part vendor like worklight and kony
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AirWatch
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the thing is that most of the existing MDM vendors only do mobile device management, while Microsoft has a strong hold in the PC management. The two will eventually converage into a single management system and I believe MSFT is best position to win this market if they will continue investing in their MDM capabilities.
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RIM had their chance, but they are being viewed as a niche player. If they had done something to bring Apple/iOS and Android into the BBN fold a couple years ago they'd be on top.
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security computing or Good Technology
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