Microsoft Begins Beta Test of Next Intune Release

by Stuart J. Johnston

One sleeper at the company's partner conference was the announcement that a significant update to Microsoft's Intune PC management service just entered beta.

Amid the announcements and speeches at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles this week, it would be easy to miss one. For instance, executives only mentioned in passing that the company has begun beta testing the next update to its online PC management service.

In fact, the first major update to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Intune, which entered beta testing Monday, adds several new features that customers have requested, Ashvini Naidu, senior product manager of Windows Intune, told InternetNews.com.

Among them are the ability to use Intune as a software installation and update tool, as well as the ability to execute remote tasks on managed PCs.

"With this release, administrators can deploy most Microsoft and third-party updates or software applications to PCs virtually anywhere, without the need for a server infrastructure or physically touching each PC to install the software or update," Microsoft spokesperson Erwin Visser, said in a post to the Windows for Your Business blog.

The update will also provide a remote tasks capability that lets administrators run malware checks on PCs they manage.

"If there is an alert for a malware threat, for example, administrators can run a scan on the affected PC by simply right-clicking on the PC from the administration console," Visser added.

The company commercially released its Intune cloud-based PC management service to subscribers in March at its Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas following nearly a year of beta testing.

In contrast, the new beta is targeted for commercial release by the end of the year, Naidu said.

Intune provides administrators with a Web-based management console, that lets them access and manage PCs from a browser interface. It's designed to provide a cloud-based, all-in-one solution covering anti-malware, update management, software and hardware inventory and remote assistance technology.

Another new feature coming in the update provides the ability to assign some administrators to have "read only" rights that let them view information regarding managed PCs but not change anything, Visser said.

In addition, the update features the ability for administrators to manage "Microsoft Retail Licenses, OEM licenses for Microsoft software, and third-party software licenses in addition to Microsoft Volume License agreements," a company fact sheet stated.


Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

This article was originally published on Tuesday Jul 12th 2011