Microsoft announces remote device management... for iPhone and iPad?

Microsoft announces remote device management... for iPhone and iPad?

ZDNET reports that Microsoft has announced that System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2012 will provide remote management for ActiveSync devices... like iPhone and iPad. The successor to Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager (MSCMDM, an acronym that, if spoken out loud, no doubt sends a Superman villain back to the 5th dimension...), it makes you wonder why Microsoft would be expanding to support devices other than their own Windows Phone? Mary Jo Foley answers:

My first thought when I heard that SCCM 2012 will enable management of iPads is that Microsoft may be undercutting its own argument that Windows-based slates and tablets are inherently better because IT managers can’t manage iPads as easily and well as they can Windows-based PCs and devices. If Microsoft makes enterprise management of iPads a key selling point, won’t the company be removing one of the advantages it claims for Windows slates?

Because different Microsoft teams have different masters — and different views of what’s needed to drive their respective businesses — one Microsoft product team may end up doing something that another team may not love. Example: The Bing team is continuing to roll out all kinds of mobile browser enhancements for iPhones and Android phones that Windows Phone 7 users won’t get until the end of this year. Another: The Office team has ported OneNote to the iPhone and may end up moving other Office apps to the iOS platform — a decision that may not be popular with the Windows team, which would prefer Office to remain a crown jewel for Windows users.

Do you manage iOS device in your enterprise? Will this functionality be of use to you?


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Microsoft announces remote device management... for iPhone and iPad?


I have always wondered why Microsoft has never developed a fully functional and feature rich Office Mobile from the iPhone, that was superior to current alternatives and that was capable of cloud syncing to more than just Skydrive. At a cost of 5 or 10 dollars they would make a lot of money that they are otherwise losing.

Easy answer. The majority of Microsoft's profits come from Windows + Office. Ballmer will do nothing to jeopardize that, which goes a long way toward explaining why Microsoft has completely failed in the mobile space. They're paralyzed, frozen in time, looking back to the glory days of the '90s.

It's natural enough for Microsoft to build support at the back-end for iDevices. People often fail to realize just how entrenched Microsoft is in the enterprise--a space Apple has zero hope of taking away from them, because their products are simply too good, too robust, and SOOOOOOO easy to support. The wealth of knowledge, process, procedure and marketplace skill available in that area is simply mind boggling, and they're smart enough to know what they need to do to ensure that continues to be the case moving forward.
As for the tablet space, I really think if Microsoft cared about it, they'd have released a tweaked version of Windows Phone 7--arguably the slickest mobile OS today from a UI standpoint--in a tablet form factor. IMHO they're wasting their time porting full blown Windows to ARM--unless they're also going to trim the OS down drastically. Which, I suppose, is possible--they trimmed Win7 dramatically compared to Vista.

No, Microsoft doesn't care about succeeding in the pad space. They're only doing it to make their shareholders think they have a clue. It's just a press-release engineering project, a checked-off box in their product marketing list. "Yeah, we did that. Now let's get back to selling the hell outta Windows 7."
Oh, and Microsoft's internal project number for Windows 7 is "Windows 6.1." And yes, you guessed it, Vista was "Windows 6.0." You do the math.

You do know that those version numbers don't mean much and that they deliberately kept it the same to ensure that applications that check for it stay compatible?

Contrary to popular fanboy belief, Microsoft has been a long time partner of Apple, including the 1997 commitment to keep the Office for Mac alive when Apple was at the brink of bankruptcy, not to mention the controversial 150M investment.
Apple has always developed for the Windows platform, and Microsoft has always kept the Mac Office updated and in constant evolution.
I fail to see why people still get surprised whenever something like this happens. People seem to think those companies should hate each other, when the truth is that Gates and Jobs are friends and Microsoft and Apple rarely compete these days.

They already support them partially on Exchange servers with Active Sync.
Very basic, but still...
And it's a helluva lot better than anything RIM does.
We're going to be using Casper Suite for this, but competition is good, and it will drive the MCSE's nuts!

Because they have licensed ActiveSync to everyone, but given Exchange admins no easy way to manage the devices, run simple reports, or get a device count. You get clumsy powershell scripts that dump out precanned .CSV files. The current SCCM only works for WinMo. This is a welcome announcement. Maybe we won't have to invest in a 3rd party MDM to manage our phones now.

I am an SCCM Engineer, and this doesn't really mean anything at all. They've already been doing Mobile devices. and having "SMS Support" for mobile devices, simply means you can see it, and query it. Lamond's terms example.. we could run a report and say.. hey we've got X many devices in our enterprise, and that's it. you CERTAINLY won't be able to do a single thing to iOS devices other then see them.

Where is the security? The nature of Active Sync is open to be hacked! Typical Microsoft product, make it easy to use for the public and ignore security.

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