Microsoft Windows Intune review

Managing and protecting an office full of PCs doesn't necessarily entail the complications of Active Directory or domain joined accounts as Mary Branscombe discovers.

A PC that's properly managed costs a business far less money to maintain thanks to properly enforced security, less hands-on support, less downtime and therefore increased productivity for the users. The numbers are significant for large businesses; for smaller companies the principles are the same but with fewer machines to spread the savings across, the advantage is slightly different. They can avoid downtime, security problems, and perhaps data loss too, without taking too much time away from somebody who almost certainly has another job to do in the business as well.

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For that kind of business, System Centre or Novell ZENworks is overkill. Windows Intune, Microsoft's new cloud service, aims to make PC management and security simple for businesses with no existing management infrastructure. You don't need to have Active Directory, and if you have AD you don't need the users you're managing to be joined to the domain or to log in via VPN. You just need to install the agent software on the PCs and then log in to the cloud service (using a web browser of course) to see managed PCs and push settings.

IT PRO Innovation Award

Intune doesn't assume one administrator is going to do everything; you can have multiple administrators on the service and split alerts between them by category, and a consultant can support multiple businesses.

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There are several main tools available in Intune. You can approve and deploy Windows updates to PCs and take care of management and reporting for the endpoint malware protection included with the service the protection is essentially identical to Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010, including the same behavioural detection and regular updates. There are also tools for setting simple security policies; asset management for software, Microsoft licences and PC hardware, and remote assistance and user support too.

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