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Microsoft releases cloud-based PC management solution

Windows Intune helps customers manage, protect and keep their PC systems up to date

Microsoft Corp. aims to make PC management and upgrades to Windows 7 Enterprise edition easier with the release of Windows Intune.

Alex Heaton, Microsoft’s group product manager for Windows Intune, said Intune is designed for businesses requiring a cloud-based PC management solution. He sees Intune’s sweet spot as businesses in the small to mid-size range.

“Intune is a way to reduce the cost of ownership, proactively manage PCs and help businesses decrease their helpdesk costs while improving user productivity,” he said. “For the IT manager or consultant, Intune offers a way to remotely manage a PC using a cloud-based system.”

With a centralized view of information and anti-virus technology (Microsoft Security Essentials) built in, Heaton said customers can make sure all of their PCs are protected, managed and up to date. Windows Intune also allows administrators to push updates to those PCs that are being managed by Intune.

Heaton said Intune is compatible with trouble-ticketing offerings from Autotask and ConnectWise. In Autotask’s case, Windows Intune can be configured to generate e-mail alerts to be automatically converted into service tickets inside of Autotask.

While the service is hosted by Microsoft, Heaton said partners own their respective end-user relationships by acting as the administrator and partner of record.

The Windows Intune service is sold on a minimum one-year subscription and is billed on a monthly basis at a price point of $14 per PC. Partners receive 18 per cent of what the customer pays in the first year and for every year after that, they’ll receive six per cent margin, Heaton said.

The service also features a multi-account console designed specifically so partners can view relevant information to better manage their customers.

Heaton said based on a Microsoft-sponsored IDC whitepaper conducted this month, on average, a customer using Intune realized a total savings of about $700 per PC per year. More specifically, he said customers saw user productivity savings of around $63 per PC per year.

Under Microsoft’s Cloud Essentials Program, partners that sign up can use Intune for free for one year for up to 10 users. Under the company’s Cloud Accelerate Partner Program, partners can receive up to 25 Intune licenses for free. Customers can also go online and sign up for a free trial.

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