Windows Intune is a cloud-based PC management and security service, which is especially useful for IT support organisations to provide management for smaller customers (for example, where a small school outsources the support of their school’s computers to a local IT company, because it doesn’t have it’s own IT technican). As it’s a subscription service, it means that you can enrol computers on a month-to-month basis, and then manage them all from a central console. And IT support teams can support computers across multiple organisations - making it easy to support a number of different schools through the same team and a single console.
Currently Windows InTune allows you to centrally:
- Manage updates on your PCs
- Protect PCs from malware
- Track hardware and software inventory
- Proactively monitor PCs, and receive alerts on threats and out-of-date PCs
- Provide remote assistance
- Set security policies
- Create and run reports, to give you things such as installed software lists
Windows InTune beta
We’ve just announced that you can now try out the next beta version of Windows InTune, due for final release later this year, and there are some really interesting developments for education users. I think the most important one is the ability to remotely distribute and install software, even without having to get the computer on-site. This is going to be brilliant if you’re running things like 1:1 laptop schemes, or you want to deploy new software out to student and teacher laptops during the long holidays.
The top improvements are:
- Software distribution: With this release, administrators can deploy most Microsoft and third-party updates or software applications to PCs virtually anywhere, without the need for a server infrastructure or physically touching each PC to install the software or update.
- Remote Tasks: This update allows IT to perform tasks, including full scan, quick scan, restart, and update malware definition all from the administration console. If there is an alert for a malware threat for example, administrators can run a scan on the affected PC by simply right-clicking on the PC from the administration console.
- Read-only Access: IT pros and partners can grant select administrators read-only access to the administration console so that they can view PC information as needed, but not perform any tasks.
With these changes, Windows Intune becomes much more interesting for education users, either as a tool for schools to run themselves (for larger schools), or for support partners to develop services to offer to smaller schools. Although it doesn’t have the full management capabilities of the Microsoft System Center suite, it’s a good option compared to not having any management tools at all!
You can find out about the full list of features and sign up for a beta account, on the Windows Intune site on Springboard