Windows Intune mobile management roadmap adds Office 365 apps

Windows Intune will include a tool to help customers manage existing iOS and Android line-of-business apps and other IT capabilities.

HOUSTON – Microsoft provided IT pros with glimpses of upcoming Windows Intune capabilities, including the ability to manage Office 365 applications and corporate data for non-Windows devices.

Microsoft hinted at the new capabilities earlier this year when it updated the cloud-based Intune but previewed the features at TechEd 2014 here this week.

Application wrapping and the ability to more securely manage corporate data will be available later this year as part of the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS).

Microsoft has positioned Intune front and center as a way to manage and secure not only Windows devices, but also Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices. Similar to the Office for iPad release, Microsoft will offer Office apps for Android devices, and Intune will be used to manage those applications.

One capability demonstrated here is that corporate data sent over personal email cannot be displayed unless the end user uses the appropriate corporate IT-approved application.

The new capabilities are expected to be available in the second half of this year.

Intune application wrapping

In addition, organizations will be able to wrap their own iOS and Android line-of-business apps using a tool that Microsoft will provide to IT later this year. IT admins can then set the policies for the wrapped application using Intune.

For example, a wrapped application could require that users save their files only to a company's OneDrive for Business file-sharing and storage technology.

Microsoft's EMS efforts are still behind those from competitors such as VMware's AirWatch, MobileIron and others, IT pros said. "Other competitors have had more experience on mobile, and Microsoft's solution is not the best at the moment," said Reiner Lange, owner of Lange IT Consulting in Soest, Germany.

However, Lange is confident Microsoft will eventually get on par with the rest of the enterprise mobility management (EMM) industry. "I know Microsoft can do it and will do it," he said.

Another IT systems administrator and programmer at a Florida-based water utility said he'll consider Microsoft's mobile product lineup.

However, Callaway Golf Co. recently moved away from EMM tools including VMware's AirWatch and consolidated by deploying Microsoft's Intune. The company chose Intune because of its support for a variety of mobile endpoints such as PCs, iOS and Android devices.

It was a nice efficiency to move to a single point and offer end users better services and resources, said Alan Schneider, Callaway's senior director of IT for business intelligence and development.

Analysts were more optimistic about Microsoft's strategic approach to managing the proliferation of mobile devices in organizations.

"The integration of Microsoft’s Intune EMM tools and Office on mobile devices will be a key differentiator," said Chris Hazelton, mobile and wireless research director at 451 Research in New York. "Microsoft will use this, paired with identity access management and digital rights management for documents, as it works to push incumbent vendors out of [its] customer base."          

Visual Studio, ASP.Net updates

Microsoft also demonstrated the Azure RemoteApp services as well as tools for developers to create mobile applications this week.

The company previewed the Visual Studio tools for the Apache Cordova platform. This enables developers to create mobile device hybrid applications using either HTML 5 or JavaScript.

A Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RTM, which includes the ability for developers to support universal Windows application development, also became available.

Microsoft also previewed ASP.Net, the next version of its development framework, and extended Visual Studio online so that application programming interfaces have hooks to integrate with third-party services.

The new ASP.Net is impressive, said Carlo Wahlstedt, a software engineer at Computer Services Inc. in Lexington, Ky., although he was not yet sure how it would fit into his company's business strategy.

Ed Scannell and Jeremy Stanley contributed to this report.

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Safeguards business data and apps, without preventing users from accessing the business apps they need wherever they are, from nearly any device. With Windows Intune you can satisfy your IT department and users Remote tasks: run malware scans or restart a computer from anywhere