By Ron Grattopp…..As some of you may know, we announced the beta of the next generation of Windows Intune on day 1 of our Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles (July 11th), early indications are that it’s expected to be rolled out later this year. If you want to check out the new beta you can do so at the TechNet Springboard site. As with the previous beta, it can only be used on up to 10 PCs, and it will expire 30 days after the update is commercially available; also remember that you cannot migrate accounts or PCs from the beta to the commercial release.
One of the key new features in this Intune update is Software Distribution, or the ability to deploy applications to managed PCs within your organization. Of course, as you would expect, it will be able to deploy most Microsoft apps, e.g. Office 2010, but, it will also allow for deployment of some third-party software, such as Adobe Reader, and manage it will manage updates for all of these as well. Software will be deployed as MSI or EXE packages and for the beta you will have 2gb of cloud storage for those apps. Note, however, that it will still not be able to do full OS deployments, however, remember that Intune is the initial installment of Microsoft’s effort to provide cloud-based management, and as I mentioned in a previous post, there is the expectation that, at some future point, there will be closer parity to our current System Center offerings which do include that capability, so it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect that that functionality will show up in a future release.
In addition to the new software distribution features, the admin UI/console has also been given a bit of a makeover, with enhanced reporting capabilities, and it now includes drag and drop capabilities, as well as context menus (with right-click). Other enhancements include new support features, such as Remote Tasks which includes the ability to restart a target machine remotely and/or initiate a malware scan from the admin console (things which previously could only be done at the local PC). Oh, and you can now have “read-only” admins too which can be handy if you have someone whom you’d like to be able to have generate reports but not actually manage PCs. Another interesting addition is that Windows Intune now will provide reports about the overall storage space that your system uses in the cloud as well as information about purchasing space for additional storage. You can read about more new features and get additional info on the above features at the Windows Intune blog and the Windows Intune beta online help.
Here’s some additional resources:
- What’s New in the Windows Intune July 2011 Beta
- Windows Intune July 2011 Beta Overview Video
- Windows Intune July 2011 Beta FAQ
I think you will find some, if not all, of these new features interesting and valuable.