Expanding optional software features: New devices, new apps and BYOD

Expanding optional software features: New devices, new apps and BYOD

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Software Installation in Windows Intune - a Potted History

The first release of Windows Intune - announced at MMS 2011 - was primarily an IT Pro-centric release. We focused on delivering an essential range of features allowing administrators to manage and secure corporate PCs. This included update management ("WSUS in the cloud"), anti-malware protection, software and hardware inventory, alerts and so on. The second release added the much-requested capability to deploy mandatory software, namely for the administrator to "push" software to managed PCs.

The advent of our third - and current - release enhanced these features and is the first release with a distinct end-user experience. Through the "Self Service Portal" web site, users can browse a catalog of available software and make their own choices as to which software to install. The administrator thus has the ability to target software to groups of devices for mandatory installation ("push") or to target groups of users who can then select software on their own accord ("pull").

Our next release, available in January, adds still more. But more on that later....

"BYOD" and the Ever-Expanding Range of Device Types

As Bring-Your-Own-Device ("BYOD") scenarios become ever more prominent to many organizations, so too does the range of devices and application types we need to support. Today, a typical end user might walk into the office with a personal laptop running any version of Windows. Or an IPad. Or an IPhone, Android device or a Windows Phone. The list is broad, it's growing and the trend to allow the end user to fully leverage their device in the workplace continues apace.

Today, Windows Intune supports deployment of optional software to a wide range of devices and operating systems. The Self Sevice Portal supports Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista and Windows 7. A mobile version of the portal supports iOS and Android. Of course, as well as the end user experience, the Windows Intune administrative console allows the administrator to upload and target software. The service supports upload of Windows executables (MSI/EXE), iOS apps or Android apps.

Next Up: Windows 8 Pro/Enterprise/RT and Windows Phone 8

The next release extends this still further, not just in terms of the range of devices that can be targeted but also through richer, more immersive user experiences. Specfically...

  • Operating System / Platform Support: The next release will add support for Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8.
  • User Experiences: As well as retaining the web-based Self-Service Portal, in the next release we will ship a more immersive experience through a new "Company Portal" Windows Store app. A similar app will be available for Windows Phone 8 and we are also enhancing the experience for iOS devices.
  • Application Types: New types of applications will be supported.
    • Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise users will be able to install targeted EXE/MSI apps as well as "sideloaded" Line-of-Business Windows 8 applications. A sideloaded app is a Windows 8 app that is installed through some other means than from the Windows Store.
    • Windows RT users will be able to install Windows 8 apps. While EXE/MSI apps cannot be installed on Windows RT devices, it is possible to remotely install such apps on Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise devices from a Windows RT device
    • The administrator will be able to publish links to a) specific applications in the various stores (Windows Store, ITunes and Google Play) or b) arbitrary URLs that might point to "web apps". Both types are effectively references to recommended or interesting applications.

Managing from Windows Intune vs. Configuration Manager 2012 SP1

Alongside these enhancements, we are also introducing features which integrate Windows Intune and System Center Configuration Manager 2012 SP1. While the details of this are worthy of a separate blog post, here's a high level view of managing from Windows Intune or SCCM 2012 SP1.

  • Managing from Windows Intune: Deploy and target optional software for Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise, Windows RT, iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8.
  • Managing from SCCM 2012 SP1: Deploy and target optional software for Windows RT, iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8. Note that Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise users will be able to install optional software through the SCCM Software Catalog, rather than from the Company Portal app.

In summary, the next release of Windows Intune builds on the success of the current release with richer end user experiences, support for more application types and integration with SCCM 2012 SP1. As ever, we would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on our direction.

 

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