To my great interest and surprise, this morning MS announced it would be making its cloud-based Windows InTune desktop licensing, remote access, and management tools available for $11 (without Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, or MDOP) or $12 (with MDOP) a month, starting March 23, 2011. I’d been reading about the offering with interest since the first beta went out in early 2010. Paul Thurrott describes the environment as “…a comprehensive, hosted solution for managing PCs in environments of all sizes…and provides a web-based interface for managing individual PCs, software updates, malware protection, software installations and licenses, (non-AD-based) policies, and more.”
To me what’s striking is that small businesses or households should find these economics very compelling, with $11 or 12 a month for the OS, plus $6 a month for Office 365, that means less than $20 a month for most of the stuff that makes desktops usable and workable. Even with double that amount for other monthly license fees, that means organizations with up to 20 PCs will be better served by this model than even the bottom-of-the-line MSDN or Microsoft Partner subscription. Though they won’t get as much test machine software out of this kind of deal, what they do get is pay-as-you go costs for their PCs, and completely legal (instead of quasi-legal) status for machines used for both production and test purposes.
The default offering includes Windows 7 Enterprise edition, though buyers can choose any version of Windows 7 they might like instead. I can’t see if this means both 32- and 64-bit versions of an OS would be available, but I’d have to guess that would be the case, just to make sure older notebooks and netbooks could run a 32-bit version, while newer or more capable machines run 64-bit.
It should be very interesting to see how this offering gets taken up in the marketplace after March 23 when it goes fully commercial. Given the ability to do remote support and administration for machines not on my LAN, it’s pretty appealing to me as the “family guru” for my sister’s family’s PCs (all 4 of them), my Dad’s PC (a D630 Latitutde notebook), and my own machines (6 to 8 of them, depending on what’s out of commission or on loan at any given time). Even with a total of 13 machines at $40 a month that’s not too bad, as long as I can “charge back” to my other family members. I have to guess lots of other SOHO “outfits” will feel the same way. It’s even more of a slam dunk for businesses not large enough to have Active Directory, but large enough to have 25-100 desktops or more.