Today Windows Intune released the fourth iteration of its hosted management ​service, internally known as “Wave D”. Intune is a public-cloud hosted device management service, capable of deploying applications to desktops, laptops and mobile devices, hardware and software inventory, endpoint protection, 24/7 monitoring and remote assistance.

With all those features in the mix already, what changed with Wave D? In a nutshell: Mobile Device Management (MDM). In previous versions of Intune, MDM was accomplished through leveraging the capabilities of Exchange ActiveSync (EAS). EAS is a robust protocol that has been used for device management for years, but only allows a limited set of functionality including device wiping and security settings. Intune Wave D introduces agent-based management for an entire slew of devices, including iOS, Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT. Put more simply, Wave D lets you manage Surface and iPad devices with agents! We’ll detail the steps for enabling this functionality in a future post. (See the attached picture for a look at the new console settings.)

The next significant change for Windows Intune is a much tighter integration with System Center Configuration Manager through SP1. With Intune Wave D and SCCM SP1, customers can choose to manage their mobile devices either through SCCM or through Intune, allowing a much more seamless “pane-of-glass” from a management perspective. Thus, the first task many new Wave D customers will need to perform is to choose where they wish to manage devices: either SCCM + Intune, or SCCM only. Once that choice is made, customers will need to setup the agents for management and begin to take stock of their environment. Because of the switch to agent-based management, customers will also be able to utilize Windows Intune with both Office 365 and hosted Exchange environments, which is a huge win for organizations that wish to go completely “to the cloud” and remove on-premises equipment. In addition, utilizing agents allows Microsoft to ensure that as customers require new features, they have direct control over the capabilities of each device.

There are also a number of important licensing changes with Wave D. Customers no longer need to purchase an upgrade license to Windows, which cuts the cost in half to $6/month. In addition, Intune has now shifted, as expected, to a per-user licensing model. This means that for every staff member, you are entitled to installed Windows Intune on up to five different machines, including versions of Windows that were formerly unsupported, like Windows Home, Windows RT and even iOS. As an example, if I have a Windows 8 Enterprise machine in the office, a Windows Surface (RT) at home, an Android tablet, iPad mini and Windows Phone 7, all could be licensed through a single copy of Windows Intune. Better yet, new versions of Intune include rights to SCCM SP1 as well! This means that I could license an OS X device in the office through SCCM for endpoint protection, as well as four other devices (up to me, again) either in the office or at home.

Between the licensing, integration and mobile device management features, Windows Intune has once again shown that even in a rapid 6 month development cycle, Microsoft can aggressively add features to meet customer demand. Interested in Windows Intune? Come chat with New Signature. We’re Microsoft’s Intune Partner of the Year for a good reason: we’ve been working with the product for the past 5 years, 3 of which while it was still being developed. We’ll be happy to show you how Windows Intune can reduce your expenses, increase your security and help you get a handle on the devices in and outside your network.

The new console features: