Microsoft closes Windows Intune cloud management beta

When Microsoft opened beta trials, it took only 24 hours to hit the self-imposed limit of 1,000 beta testers.

Microsoft's Windows Intune cloud-based PC management service is proving to be quite popular. When Microsoft opened beta trials, it took only 24 hours to hit the self-imposed limit of 1,000 beta testers.

A second beta was announced in July and Microsoft said it would be open to 10,000 customers. As of Monday this week, Microsoft has apparently hit that limit, and announced that the company is no longer signing up new users.

Microsoft's cloud strategy: A question of 'feature parity'

People who are interested in Windows Intune can still sign up to receive notifications about future releases. Since Intune won't be generally available until sometime in 2011, there could be additional beta trials before the final release.

Windows Intune is a cloud-based desktop management service aimed at small and mid-sized businesses, which will cost $11 per PC per month.

"Through a Web-based console that can be accessed anywhere an Internet connection is available, IT administrators can manage the deployment of Microsoft updates and service packs to all PCs, keep track of hardware and software inventory, fix PC issues remotely, manage protection from malware threats and set security policies," reporter Shane O'Neill of CIO writes.

Based on suggestions from users during the first beta, Microsoft added a Multi-Account Console feature that lets users manage multiple accounts from the same page.

In announcing the closing of the second beta, Microsoft official Alex Heaton did not give any hint of what other features to expect in future releases. "We'll use the ongoing feedback from our current beta testers to help ensure we deliver Windows Intune with the highest possible quality and ecosystem readiness," he writes.

Users who participated in the beta can continue to use the Windows Intune service "until the next release," he added.

Windows Intune is one of several pieces to Microsoft's cloud computing strategy, which is a key area of focus for the company as it attempts to stave off challenges from Google's Web-based office tools and Amazon's popular Elastic Compute Cloud.

With Windows Azure, Microsoft lets customers build and host Web applications in Microsoft data centers, while the company also offers hosted versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Microsoft Office.

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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