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With Windows 8, Windows RT devices, and Windows Phone 8 coming soon, we are excited to give you a preview of the new client management capabilities and vision we’ll be delivering in the coming months:

  • System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1
  • Interoperability of Windows Intune and System Center Configuration Manager Console
  • Management of Windows RT and Windows Phone 8
  • Windows Intune Licensing Changes
  • Support for the Management of Windows Embedded devices


System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1 (SP1)
We are very pleased with the reception System Center 2012 has had since its release in April.  Many organizations are in the process of deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to help embrace consumerization while still maintaining corporate compliance and control.  Over the past few months we’ve been detailing our plans for Configuration Manager Service Pack 1, and we’re happy to announce that the beta is now available for download on the Microsoft Download Center.   This blog post focuses on the Configuration Manager  capabilities in the service pack, as well as new information about Windows Intune.  For information about the datacenter and cloud management capabilities of SP1, see the post on this blog.

Configuration Manager SP1 enhancements include:

  • Deployment and management of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
  • Distribution point for Windows Azure to help reduce infrastructure costs
  • Automation of administrative tasks through PowerShell support
  • Management of Mac OS X clients and Linux and UNIX servers

One of the great new benefits of this platform are Windows 8 apps, and ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 allows you to deploy and update these apps alongside your existing native and virtual applications.  SP1 will support the deployment and management of Windows to Go USB drives, as well as enable you to more easily manage policies for new Windows 8 client-side caching, roaming user profiles, and folder redirection features.  For mobile workers, ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 Beta will include the new ability to detect 3G and 4G network connections to prevent delivering software at a time when data charges may apply.

Interoperability of Windows Intune and System Center Configuration Manager Console
The proliferation of mobile devices presents unique challenges for organizations of all sizes.  These devices run various operating systems.  With the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), they’re likely to be owned and controlled by the individual and cannot be “managed” like a typical corporate-controlled PC.  They’re also typically not on the corporate network but instead utilize the Internet for connectivity, even to access corporate data.  These challenges require flexibility in the way corporate policies are defined, such as determining which policies can and should be applied to which devices, and how those devices should be managed. 

Microsoft offers two separate endpoint management solutions – System Center 2012 Configuration Manager for on-premises management, and Windows Intune for management through the cloud.  With System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1 and the next version of Windows Intune, Microsoft is taking the first step in delivering interoperability between these products through Configuration Manager’s administration console.  This will enable customers to add mobile devices managed through the cloud with Windows Intune into their System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1 console and manage all the devices through one tool.

While you can continue to use Windows Intune as your “fully in the cloud” management solution for PC and mobile device managment, the interoperability of our on-premises and cloud services is a big step forward for organizations that want to manage all of their devices from one place.

UPDATE 9/14: It should be noted the Windows Intune interoperability is not functional in the beta of the Service Pack for Configuration Manager 2012.

Management of Windows RT devices and Windows Phone 8
If you already have System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, SP1 and the next version of Windows Intune will enable you to extend the reach of your management infrastructure to include mobile devices via the cloud.  Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT devices will be managed by the next release of Windows Intune.  (If your organization desires a solely cloud-based solution, Windows Intune will also support Windows 8.)   IT Pros will have the flexibility of using either the Windows Intune or Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 console to set mobile security policies, distribute mobile apps and view reports.  We’ll share more details as we get closer to the next release of Windows Intune.

Windows Intune Licensing Changes
To help organizations benefit from our Windows Intune and Configuration Manager SP1 solution for BYOD and other device management scenarios, we are changing our licensing for Windows Intune in the next release:

  • We are shifting from a per-device to a per-user licensing model.  Each user license for Windows Intune covers up to 5 managed devices.

 

  • There will be a Windows Intune user license that includes the rights to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, enabling organizations to manage those devices through either Windows Intune or Configuration Manager, or both. 

 

  • Organizations that already own System Center 2012 Configuration Manager licenses, such as through the Core CAL, will have access to Windows Intune at a reduced price. 

 

  • Today, all managed PCs covered by a Windows Intune license may be upgraded to Windows Enterprise as long as the qualifying OS is one of the following editions of Windows: Business, Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise.  This will continue to be available, but we will also make a version of Windows Intune available without rights to Windows Enterprise, thereby lowering the cost for organizations that are not ready to move to the latest operating system.


Further details on pricing will be provide at a later date.

Support for the Management of Windows Embedded devices
With Service Pack 1, the capabilities of System Center 2012 Configuration Manager will be extended to manage Windows Embedded thin clients, Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals, digital signage, kiosks, and ThinPCs.  This functionality means additional devices can be managed by System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 without requiring any additional software.  The upcoming Windows Embedded Standard 8, which will be available within three quarters from  Windows 8 General Availability, has been architected for even easier management by System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.

Next Steps
If you are already deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, you should continue the deployment to benefit from its management capabilities, while testing Configuration Manager SP1 in your lab.  If you have not begun your deployment, we encourage you to evaluate all the benefits of Configuration Manager with SP1.  To evaluate the current release of Windows Intune, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Windows Intune at http://www.windowsintune.com

Look for availability of System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 and the next release of Windows Intune in early 2013. 

Thanks for reading!


Server & Cloud Platform Team