During his keynote today at the Microsoft Management Summit corporate vice president Brad Anderson discussed Microsoft IT solutions to help companies streamline PC and device management and better empower productivity in today’s modern enterprise.  He announced the general availability of Windows Intune, and demonstrated the new solution for cloud based management and security of PCs.  Below is a post about Windows Intune by general manager Gavriella Schuster on the Windows for your Business Blog.

Opening the Window to PC Management in the Cloud

One year ago we released the first beta of Windows Intune, and I am thrilled to announce that the final version is now officially available for purchase or a free 30-day trial in 35 countries! Windows Intune is a cloud-based PC management and security solution that will help you manage and secure PCs from virtually anywhere – all you need is an internet connection.

Windows Intune is a fantastic way to step up to Windows 7 – our fastest selling operating system ever with more than 300 million licenses sold worldwide! Business customers are moving to Windows 7 rapidly as they experience both very high end user excitement and IT value. Windows Intune includes upgrade rights to current and future versions of Windows Enterprise so you can standardize on one version of Windows and give your employees the best Windows experience.

For Businesses of ALL Sizes

The Windows Intune beta was tested by businesses all sizes—from enterprise customers that used Windows Intune to manage thousands of PCs, to small and medium businesses who are using a consolidated, PC management tool for the first time.

Enterprise customers found that Windows Intune could help them manage and secure their mobile PCs, for their sales organization for example, that were only sporadically connected to the corporate network.

Medium sized businesses, like Briess Malt and Ingredients Company, found that Windows Intune gave them greater insight into their PC environment and enabled them to consolidate the number of tools they used. “It was frustrating having to bounce between tools for management and security issues. We really needed a single solution that would enable us to assess both PC status and security at the same time,” said Derek Schauland, Information Technology Manager. “I can manage PCs much more effectively with Windows Intune-whether they’re right next to me, or in a remote location.”

IDC conducted a study of Windows Intune beta testers and found compelling cost savings. They found a total savings of $702 per PC per year with Windows Intune, with the majority of cost savings resulting from improvements to IT and end-user productivity. You can read the IDC study and hear more from our customers and partners on the Windows Intune Web site.

What Windows Intune Means for Microsoft Partners

We designed Windows Intune to be used by service providers and IT consultants, as well as in house IT professionals. It’s a great way for partners to get into the managed service market by providing a valuable, comprehensive PC management solution without having to make an upfront investment in infrastructure.

In the second beta, we added a new multi-account console to help partners use Windows Intune to easily manage multiple customers. And today, based on partner requests, we have released guidance on how to integrate Windows Intune with commonly used professional software automation (PSA) tools like Autotask and ConnectWise.

Partners like District Computers are already experiencing the value of Windows Intune. They’ve worked with us since the first beta and are excited to offer the final version to their customers as an all-inclusive PC management and security package at a reasonable price point. Here’s what Stephen Hall, their CEO and Senior Network Engineer Stephen Hall, had to say:

Windows Intune represents an opportunity for partners to reach out to many end users that they could not reach out to in the past. It’s a very affordable management solution that end users can embrace because it’s coming from Microsoft being managed by a partner.

In addition to the report on Windows Intune TCO, IDC created a second report that outlines the partner opportunity. They found that Windows Intune would help grow PC management businesses by an average of 19% over the first full year of operations.

For partners interested in trying and using the product internally, for free, you can sign up for the Cloud Essentials program Internal Usage Rights (IUR) software and visit Windows Intune on the Microsoft Partner Network. You may also be interested in checking out Jon Roskill’s blog on Windows Intune.

More Management and Security News

We also have some Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) news that I’d like to share with you. As you may recall, any Windows Intune customer can add MDOP for an additional dollar per seat per month. Two weeks ago, we released MDOP 2011 and in the next release of MDOP, we’ll have new management and security features.

Today, we are releasing the beta for Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) and in early April, the beta of the next version of our Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) will be available as well. Both will be part of the next version of MDOP, which will be available in Q3 of calendar year 2011.

MBAM builds on BitLocker in Windows 7 and helps simplify BitLocker provisioning and deployments, improves compliance and reporting, and reduces support costs through streamlining the key recovery process. While the updated version of DaRT will include the ability to initiate a remote control session to assist users without the need for a desk side visit and the ability to boot from the network or a USB stick to use the recovery tools.

In my conversations with customers, it’s interesting to learn that many businesses already have the rights to the MDOP technologies and don’t even know it. So my hope is you will look into MDOP and find out how your business can benefit from it.

I also want you to know that available today is Beta 2 of System Center Configuration Manager 2012, the next version of Microsoft’s endpoint management solution for enterprises today. Configuration Manager 2012 helps reduce IT costs and inefficiencies by unifying the security and management of mobile, physical and virtualized PCs and devices into one solution.

Vision for the Future

This is just the beginning. We plan to rapidly innovate on Windows Intune and deliver new versions on a much faster cycle than we have with our on-premise software. We will take the best of the capabilities delivered through our on-premise solutions like System Center Configuration Manager, the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, Forefront Endpoint protection and the management and security features of Windows 7 Enterprise and enable them through the cloud.

Over time Windows Intune will help you achieve the same management results you get with on-premise solutions and even more with less cost and higher productivity. If you’ve already invested in on-premise solutions, don’t worry, we’ll provide migration tools in the future to help you move to the cloud when you are ready.

Try It Today

I encourage you to try out Windows Intune for your own business. Check out the free 30-day trial version to manage up to 25 PCs and see firsthand the immediate benefits of using Windows Intune. Because there is no infrastructure to setup, you can be up and running and managing your PCs with Windows Intune in virtually no time. If you find it to be as great as our beta customers tell us it is, then you can purchase Windows Intune by visiting www.windowsintune.com.

Finally, I’d like to thank the thousands of beta testers who have been using Windows Intune and give us the feedback we needed. Current beta users will be able to keep using the beta until April 18.

For more information on this news, check out the Press Release and News Center story. On March 31, be sure to join Microsoft Technical Fellow, Mark Russinovich as he hosts the Windows Intune Technology Tune-up. This virtual roundtable event is intended help you jumpstart Windows Intune and will include product demos, tips and tricks, and live Q&A time with IT professionals and Windows Intune experts.

Let me know if you have any comments or if you’ve looking for more information on what Microsoft has to offer businesses in the cloud computing, check out the Cloud Power site.

Thanks and have a great day. - Joel