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Microsoft announced the beta rollout of its Windows Intune, a cloud-based management system for the IT administrators of midsize businesses, on April 19. Microsoft intends for Intune to give those administrators an enterprise-style level of control over a network, but with the reduced costs assumed to come with adopting a cloud infrastructure. Around 1,000 organizations will use the beta version of Intune for a month-long period; after that point, general release of the platform should come within a year.

In addition to cloud services, on-site PC management tools and added malware protection, Intune will include a Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade subscription, meaning in theory that a business could elect to switch its desktops and laptops over to the same operating system. However, Microsoft executives in a pre-briefing before the April 19 announcement declined to break down a pricing structure for Intune, making it difficult to determine whether electing to take that subscription will result in a lower per-seat cost for Windows 7 Enterprise than other potential purchasing strategies.

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