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.

To call Windows Intune the cloud version of System Center (or even the free System Center Essentials) isn't quite right and would miss the point of who Intune is for. Unlike other simple management systems such as Spiceworks, it doesn't assume you have AD or even that all the PCs you have to deal with ever connect to the corporate network.

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Once you install the software agent, you can make sure they have malware protection and updates, keep an eye on what software is installed, configure the firewall and support users as soon as they're online. There's the added value of getting Windows 7 Enterprise (and future upgrades) to being able to take charge of the mixed bag of PCs you find in smaller businesses and the mixed assortment of anti-virus software that comes with them. While Windows Intune will be too simple for sophisticated IT teams with more complex deployments, we think it's an attractive solution for small businesses that lack a dedicated IT department. The ability to manage Windows 7's XP Mode could be worth the subscription cost alone.

So what's our verdict?

Verdict

System Center in the cloud it isn’t, but Windows Intune is a simple and valuable cloud service to manage PCs in smaller businesses that would otherwise have no management infrastructure.

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Administrator system requirements: Internet connection, Internet Explorer (for EasyAssist), Silverlight 3 System requirements for client PCs: Windows 7 Enterprise/Ultimate/Professional, Windows Vista Enterprise/Ultimate/Business or Windows XP Professional SP2/SP3, 500MHz CPU, 256MB RAM

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