If you run a small or medium sized business, have you ever thought that you needed the same kind of PC-management tools that large corporations use? If you haven’t, then Microsoft sure has. Microsoft believes that the tools large corporations use to manage their PC network should be available to small and medium sized businesses, which is why they just invented Intune, a web-based service which gives businesses the ability to patch and update programs and track antivirus software on their computers. According to Group Product Manager at Microsoft Alex Heaton, “It’s using the cloud to make Windows more secure.
Microsoft launched Intune today, the service that they said last July would cost $11 per month per computer. The service launched at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas. The service requires you to commit for an entire year and will actually be av available in 35 different countries. Your one year subscription will include the right to upgrade your PCs to the enterprise edition of Windows 7 among other things. Microsoft is, however, limiting a company’s Intune service to 20,000 PCs per company but will offer volume discounts to large customers.
Despite the large limit cap and the discount to big customers, Intune is primarily aimed at small to medium sized businesses, especially ones with little tech support and a small infrastructure. “This is more of a small to medium business play,” says Al Gillen, an IDC analyst who conducted research on the Intune market for Microsoft. “Those are generally the people that don’t have PC management.”
The biggest challenge Microsoft faces is convincing these small to medium sized businesses that Intune is worth their time and money. A lot of small and medium sized businesses do not have a large budget designated for PC management. Gillen discovered that companies that do not have on-site tech support could potentially save $700 or more a year per PC by using Intune. This money savings comes mainly from reducing the manual labor fees. To companies that do not have a tech staff the savings may be less noticeable. Because of this, Gillen does not expect Intune to blast off into the market but rather grow gradually. “It won’t hockey stick in the first 6 to 12 months,” Gillen said. “It will take longer than that.”
Intune is already gaining interest however. Microsoft launched Intune in beta form last April and capped its limit of 1,000 users within 24 hours. A second beta was later released in July and hit its 10,000 user limit by September. Even though Intune comes with the option of upgrading your PC to Windows 7 Enterprise, it still works fine on Windows XP and Windows Vista. It does not, however, run on PCs using an older version of Windows or Macs.
Intune, in addition to managing and deploying software updates and checking up on malware activity, allows companies to set up remote assistance for employees and workers who may be away from the home office. It also gives you a complete inventory of hardware as well as software within the company.
There is also a feature within Intune that Microsoft designed that is set up to help IT consultants manage PCs for multiple companies. The multi-account console, as it is being called, gives IT consultants the ability to switch between customers in order to manage their PCs. Those resellers receive 18% of Intune subscription revenue for the first year and 6% every year after that. They also have the ability to charge more for advising customers about future software development based on the customer’s Intune data.
Source: CNET – Microsoft launches ne PC tool for small businesses