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Microsoft Intune Provides Management In the Cloud

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Microsoft has begun beta testing a new set of online services aimed at making enterprise-class system management tools available to medium-sized companies.

Named Intune, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) plans to test the cloud-based tools with 1,000 customers and IT partners. The beta is available to users in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico immediately.

"Windows Intune simplifies how businesses manage and secure PCs using Windows cloud services and Windows 7 -- making it easier for IT staff to manage and secure PCs from virtually anywhere," Brandon LeBlanc, a Microsoft spokesperson, said in a post on the Windows 7 blog.

Microsoft identifies mid-sized businesses as those with between 25 and 500 PCs to manage.

"Many of these companies don't have the resources or budget to setup and maintain an on-premise desktop management infrastructure and they want enterprise-class solutions," LeBlanc said.

Intune, which will be a subscription-based online service similar to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), provides a Web-based management console meant to enable IT managers to administer PCs using a browser interface.

BPOS, for example, provides cloud-hosted enterprise applications such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online and Office Live Meeting.

LeBlanc went on to point to Windows Update as another example of the type of cloud services that Intune will provide.

For instance, Intune will provide the ability to manage updates, as well as to block malware using Microsoft's Malware Protection Engine. It also enables support personnel to monitor PCs and provide remote assistance for users.

Tracking assets, managing the firewall, malware protection and more

Additionally, LeBlanc said Intune includes tools for tracking hardware and software, including the ability to monitor assets, licenses, and compliance. Finally, Intune will enable administrators to manage features such as firewall and malware protection policies.

Further, Microsoft is also bundling in upgrade rights to Windows 7 Enterprise in order to give managers the option to standardize on a single edition of Windows. The subscription will also provide the tools included in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, or MDOP.

Interested parties can sign up for the beta test until May 16.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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