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Those entrenched in the managed services market could have viewed Microsoft’s announcement this week of the Microsoft Windows Intune hosted managed service as a competitive threat that could disrupt the growing market for managed services.

But instead, those contacted by Channel Insider said they are enthusiastic about the Microsoft Windows Intune offering.

Microsoft is piloting a managed services offering for customers with 25 to 500 personal computers. On April 19 Microsoft announced the limited beta — involving 1,000 partners and customers — of Windows Intune.

Pricing and channel compensation are still to be worked out, and a commercial release date is expected to be at least a year away.

According to Microsoft, with the cloud service component of Windows Intune, partners and customers will be able to:

  • manage PCs from anywhere via a web-based console;
  • centrally manage the deployment of Microsoft updates and service packs to all PCs;
  • protect PCs from the latest threats with malware protection built on the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine that can be managed through the Web-based console;
  • proactively receive alerts on updates and threats before they can cause problems;
  • resolve PC issues remotely;
  • track hardware and software inventory to manage assets, licenses, and compliance;
  • and centrally manage update, firewall, and malware protection policies, even on remote machines outside the corporate network.

Besides the Windows cloud service component, Windows Intune also includes Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade rights to standardize PCs on a single version of Windows, and the advanced tools included in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for more critical troubleshooting and complex PC management tasks (i.e. drive recovery and virtualization).