Microsoft launching cloud-based Intune in March

Microsoft is kicking off its new cloud-based Intune PC management service on March 23.

Designed to help businesses manage and secure their PCs via the cloud, Windows Intune will launch to paying customers and those who want to check out the free 30-day trial, according to a Windows blog posted today. Intune has been available for beta testing since April.

Moving PC administration to a Microsoft-run cloud, Intune aims to keep PCs automatically configured with the newest Windows updates and protected by the latest antivirus security software. Beyond keeping PCs updated, the online service lets business owners maintain security policies, monitor their PCs to make sure they have the right updates, and offer remote assistance to end users, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft has already said that it will charge customers $11 per computer per month to use Intune. Though the service can be used by any type of company, it's designed for small and midsize businesses that may not have dedicated IT people or whose workers are scattered across multiple locations.

To set up Intune within a business, the client software must be installed on each individual PC. The software can run on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, including Windows 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, and Professional; Windows Vista Enterprise, Ultimate, and Business; and Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 or 3. Installing the client software requires administrative rights on the PC.

Included in the cost of Intune are free upgrade rights to Windows 7 Enterprise to help businesses that want to standardize on the same version of Windows.

On March 23, Intune will receive an official launch at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas and through its dedicated Web site. The service will be available in more than 35 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan, and India.

Users still trying out the beta of Intune will have until April 18 before it expires. Businesses can also learn more about Intune through its own FAQ page.

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