I have been waiting for the launch of Windows InTune for some time now and it is now finally available in the UK to sign up to. You can trial the software for 30 Days by signing up to the service: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsintune/pc-management-how-to-try-and-buy.aspx
The cost of the service in the UK works out to £7.25 (Excluding VAT) Per Computer Per Month.
One of the plus points that I think is really great with Windows InTune is that you get Upgrade Rights to Windows 7 Enterprise for Each PC that you sign up to the service, generally you find that most small/medium businesses generally purchase Windows 7 Professional or/ what i have seen in recent months many companies go to their local IT Store and purchase a computer and the do not realize that it has come with Windows 7 Home Premium which then limit's to what they can do with that system in their organization.
The reason why I like the fact that the computers get Upgrade Rights to Windows 7 Ultimate is that they get the added services within that edition such as Bit-locker which is basically an Encryption Element within the Windows Operating System which allows users to Encrypt the data on the Hard Disk or/ On Removable Media. We all know that it is becoming very common at the moment with people loosing removable devices which contains sensitive information and therefore i think having this added bonus will really give organizations the ability to look at the security within there organization without the added costs which could be incurred if they were to upgrade all their systems to Windows 7 Ultimate for example.
The good news is the Interface is pretty much how it looked in BETA and the screenshot's that showed the service online prior the release so i never expected anything different when logging in for the first time. I have found the interface to be very slick and smooth and it is pretty quick to navigate around and find things with out any great difficulty.
So, First things first I fired up my Windows 7 Virtual Machine and browsed to the Windows InTune Management Portal and logged in with my Live ID Credentials. The Portal is Built using Silverlight. As Soon as I had logged in I navigated to the "Administration" Node and Selected "Client Software Download" and then clicked on "Client Software Download" which downloaded a .zip file to my system which contained a setup executable and a "WindowsIntune.accountcert" file which from what i understand is the file that will automatically link that machine to your Windows InTune Management Account.
I run the executable on my Windows 7 Virtual Machine and clicked on Next and away it went copying over the necessary installation files. The process took about 1 minute to complete on my system. Once it had completed I then clicked on Finish, within around 15 seconds of me clicking finish the windows Intune client software took over, installing "Windows Intune Endpoint Protection" and "Windows InTune Center"
It didn't take long for the updates to complete and then i was presented with the following "Windows InTune Center" Application on my system and Windows Intune Endpoint Protection which is pretty much "Windows Security Essentials" which would look after my Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware Protection.
So now the client was installed the machine then appeared automatically in my Windows InTune Management System for me to view it's status. It fell into the Unassigned Computers Group.
You can Deploy the Client using Group Policy for Organizations with more than a couple of systems and that contain a Central Server running any Windows Server Operating System with a Domain. See here for more information: http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsintune/ff628144.aspx
One thing I did like about the Deployment Process was that the help was provided from the start from within the interface so you never had to go and work out how to deploy the software automatically you just followed the instructions on Microsoft Online Help.
Next, I had a look at what the "Remote Support" aspect of Windows InTune was like. I launched the Windows InTune Center and clicked on "Remote Support Request" which then triggered an Alert in the Management Interface as shown below (Left Image)
So I Then clicked on the Alert to get further information (Right Image), and then clicked on the link "Click Here To Take Action" which then launched the following window (Left Image)
I then clicked on "Accept Remote Assistance Request" which then launched another window which took me to Microsoft Live Meeting but gave me the following error (Right Image). So if you wish to remote support an End-User do not use Linux/OSX etc. It appears it will only work on Windows Operating Systems as you should get the following:
I selected "Join Session" which then prompted me to input a Display Name and then you join a Live Meeting using Easy Assist which will then allow you to chat with the end user and share each others desktop as well as send and receive files. So pretty standard remote support services but it does make life a whole lot easier when it comes to support users whom are going to be out and about on the road or/ at home.
Once you have completed your remote support session and the issue has been resolved, you are then able to go back in to the alert's note on the management console and close the alert.
I then had a look into the alert that was showing previously in regards to Windows Updates and I completed the following steps to push out the installation:
I could see that my Windows 7 Machine required a Windows Update to be authorized. So I selected the update and then clicked on Approve. If you have multiple updates you can choose then individually or/ install then all. Take note at the bottom of the window which gives you important information about the update.
The Update was then applied to my Windows 7 Computer and the Status had changed to Green.
So, Overall my first thoughts on the system are as predicted. It does what it says on the tin and will allow IT Administrators and 3rd Part Support Companies the ability to manage there Windows 7 Computers easily and have an easy overview of what the status of equipment is owned by them.
I will post some further information on the reporting aspect of Windows InTune in the next few days when i have managed to test the service on a couple of other computers.
If anyone has any questions regarding Windows InTune please do give me a shout and I'd be more than happy to help. I will be using the service to look after any small organizations that i come in contact with and need to look after because it will help me keep an eye on the systems and allow me to have more control over them with me not being on-site full time.
I think this will be a great service for 3rd Party IT Support Companies to offer to there clients as it helps them help there clients plus keeping costs down and keeping the client happier knowing they have healthy systems. (even more nice you can provide them with information on the status of there network with ease!).