The cloud-based service enables a VAR or MSP to log on once to manage and maintain several sets of client desktops. Microsoft also positioned it as an easy way to upgrade customers to Windows 7.
A second beta of Windows Intune, released at this week's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, features an enhanced console that lets VARs see and manage all of their customers at once. Desktop alerts can be delivered through that console dashboard or via email, Microsoft said.
Microsoft will charge end users $11 per desktop for the service.
As more VARs add managed services capabilities to their services, such tools are invaluable. They can enable a smaller VAR to reach out to and manage more customers, for example.
Carl Mazzanti, CEO of eMazzanti Technologies, a Hoboken, N.J.-based Microsoft Gold partner is fully aboard. A single-sign on way for a solution provider or MSP to access views of multiple accounts is a huge benefit, he noted.
InTune, which also manages Windows XP and Vista desktops also carries malware protection and Windows 7 upgrade rights.
Many MSPs now use products from Kaseya, N-able Technologies, Level Platforms and other vendors to remotely manage client desktops. Dell bought SilverBack Technologies a few years ago to provide competitive services.
For 100% Windows shops, Intune could be a tough competitor.
Intune was just one of several cloud-related products and services hyped at the big WPC. Microsoft also touted a new version of Small Business Server called Aurora that lets shops that want to avail themselves of hosted email to retain local storage. And, as expected, Microsoft made a huge Windows Azure push.
While Azure holds appeal for forward-thinking application development shops, it's still a stretch for most VARs, observers said. "Of all the partners I've talked to here [at the conference], I'd say 11 out of 50 understand what they can do with Azure," noted analyst Ray Wang, founding partner of the Altimeter Group.