Microsoft has announced the first update to its cloud PC management service, Windows InTune, just four months after its launch.
Windows InTune 2 adds new features including using InTune to deploy software and manage licences, scanning monitored PCs for malware remotely and read-only access to the service, plus improvements in the reporting tools and the interface.
The most important feature has been requested by many InTune users; being able to use InTune to distribute software, instead of just updates to Windows.
This works with the majority of applications. "You can use this to deploy anything from Office 2010 to updates to third party software like Acrobat," according to senior product manager Alex Heaton.
"It works with any EXE or MSI file that you can package up; you're able to upload them into the cloud and deploy them to the PCs you're managing through InTune."
The same tool lets you offer updates for apps you've already deployed.
Managing third-party software licences with InTune is another planned feature that customers have been asking for, so that as well as discovering what software is on the PCs you're managing you can check whether you have licences for it.
"We've extended licence management to third party and non-Volume Licence agreements," principal program manager lead Marc Shepard said.
Administrators do have to fill in details by hand (like the publisher, licence count and dates for the agreement) but InTune auto completes software title names from the software inventory that InTune does for you.
The core security tools in InTune get one new feature: if malware is detected on a PC you're managing with InTune, you're already able to schedule a full malware scan as a follow-up. Windows InTune 2 you'll be able to start the malware scan remotely, to make sure it's done straight away.
InTune already allows a business to split responsibilities between several administrators. Read-only access to InTune 2 is another option, for managers who want to see the state of the PCs being managed but who don't need the rights to work with the PC themselves. Shepard suggests this option is ideal "if your boss wants to micromanage."
There are also more reports on the health of systems you're managing, as well as a new report to help you track hardware details, for example locating all PCs that are running low on disk space.
Windows InTune 2 is available as a beta today through Microsoft's TechNet, and because it's a cloud service it will be a free upgrade for all users later this year.
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Mary is a freelance business technology journalist who has written for the likes of ITPro, CIO, ZDNet, TechRepublic, The New Stack, The Register, and many other online titles, as well as national publications like the Guardian and Financial Times. She has also held editor positions at AOL’s online technology channel, PC Plus, IT Expert, and Program Now. In her career spanning more than three decades, the Oxford University-educated journalist has seen and covered the development of the technology industry through many of its most significant stages.
Mary has experience in almost all areas of technology but specialises in all things Microsoft and has written two books on Windows 8. She also has extensive expertise in consumer hardware and cloud services - mobile phones to mainframes. Aside from reporting on the latest technology news and trends, and developing whitepapers for a range of industry clients, Mary also writes short technology mysteries and publishes them through Amazon.