Microsoft has released a beta for a forthcoming cloud-based service designed to help IT staff manage and secure PCs from practically anywhere. The beta is currently available for a select group of testers only.
Windows Intune will simplify the way in which businesses manage and secure PCs using Windows cloud services and Windows 7, according to information posted on Microsoft's Windows Blog by communications manager Brandon LeBlanc.
The beta is being restricted to 1,000 customers in the US, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico, and no precise date has been given for the final product, other than it will ship within a year of the beta.
Windows Intune delivers cloud-based management and security capabilities administered through a simple web-based console, according to Microsoft.
The service will chiefly target midsized businesses with 25 to 500 PCs in their IT infrastructure. Windows Intune is also expected to attract businesses with a highly mobile and distributed workforce by helping to manage and secure PCs in the office or on the road.
"Many of these companies don't have the resources or budget to set up and maintain an on-premise desktop management infrastructure, and they want enterprise-class solutions. They've been coming to us asking for a solution that will meet their specific needs and budgets," wrote LeBlanc.
Like Microsoft's enterprise management tools, Windows Intune will enable customers to centrally manage the deployment of Windows updates and service packs to all PCs, but it will also include built-in anti-malware capabilities based on the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine.
It will also feature health monitoring of PCs to alert administrators to developing problems, remote assistance capabilities, and tracking of hardware and software assets, according to Microsoft, providing a fairly comprehensive set of PC management features.
The subscription service will include a Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade, allowing customers to standardise all PCs onto a single version of Windows, although it will support older versions as well.
Details on subscription pricing have yet to be disclosed, but Microsoft said that Windows Intune will be sold through partners and the Microsoft Online Services web site.
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