Just one of the many announcements coming out of Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) on Monday, the software Goliath talked up new features and wider availability of its Windows Intune beta, a cloud-based management and security platform.
"On April 19, Brandon LeBlanc announced the first public beta of Windows Intune, available to more than 1,000 customers and IT partners in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. We saw a lot of excitement from partners and customers and the beta filled up very quickly," Alex Heaton, Group Project Manager for Windows Intune at Microsoft, said in a blog post.
"Now we want to give more of you an opportunity to try Windows Intune. Today we are expanding the scope of the beta to 10,000 accounts and increasing the regions to the US, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, UK, and Italy."
Not for the casual observer, Heaton says only those who are able to test the platform on up to five PCs should sign up for the beta, as Microsoft is trying to gather feedback "to ensure a quality final release."
As for pricing, Heaton said Windows Intune will include the cloud management service with integrated anti-malware (AV and anti-spyware) plus Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade rights bundled together in a single subscription for $11 per PC, per month.
After Microsoft scrapped plans to release its dual-screen Courier and HP pulled the plug on its much hyped Windows 7-based Slate (you know, before the company went out and gobbled up Palm, putting them in a webOS state of mind), we wondered if we'd ever see Redmond's latest OS make a run at the tablet market. Wonder no more, says Steve Ballmer, who told 14,000 partners during his July 12 keynote at the Worldwide Partner Conference that Windows 7 slates are forthcoming.
Not only are Windows 7 slates coming, says Ballmer, but in a big way. As the outspoken CEO tells it, Microsoft and several of its PC partners have plans to release Windows 7-based tablets in the coming months, including ones from Asus, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba, and Sony.
These will ship in varying form factors, everything from ones with physical keyboards to touch only, from dockable tablets to slates with digital ink, and more, Ballmer says.
When exactly these slates will come to market is anyone's guess, but if everyone makes good on their plans, 2011 might go down as the year of the tablet. Everyone and their uncle has been promising to release a tablet at some point or another, with many aiming for late 2010.