Enterprise services and support

Microsoft launching cloud-based Intune in March

Microsoft is kicking off its new cloud-based Intune PC management service on March 23.

Designed to help businesses manage and secure their PCs via the cloud, Windows Intune will launch to paying customers and those who want to check out the free 30-day trial, according to a Windows blog posted today. Intune has been available for beta testing since April.

Moving PC administration to a Microsoft-run cloud, Intune aims to keep PCs automatically configured with the newest Windows updates and protected by the latest antivirus security software. Beyond keeping PCs updated, the online service lets business owners maintain security policies, … Read more

Microsoft's Windows Azure turns one

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Microsoft's Azure platform being available for public consumption.

To celebrate, Microsoft has announced two additional companies that have made use of the platform for consumer- and business-facing services. One of those is T-Mobile, which used Azure to speed up the development time for its Family Room collaboration tool for mobile phones. The other is Xerox, which used Windows Azure and SQL Azure to help build its cloud-based printing service dubbed Cloud Print.

Microsoft first unveiled its Windows Azure platform a little more than two years ago at PDC 2008. Then chief software architect … Read more

HP, Microsoft debut four new business appliances

Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft tonight are taking the covers off four pieces of HP-made hardware that will ship with software, services, and support from both companies as part of their Frontline partnership.

The goal, the companies say, is to reduce the amount of time it takes to deploy new appliances by bundling together pre-configured hardware and software. The hardware has also been designed to cover both small-medium businesses (SMBs) as well as enterprise-size companies.

The four configurations HP and Microsoft are launching to meet that goal are: the HP Business Decision Appliance, the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance, the HP E5000 … Read more

Google gets halt of Microsoft contract with Interior Dept.

A judge has granted Google's request for a temporary court order that puts a freeze on a contract the U.S. Interior Department planned to award to Microsoft for an e-mail system.

U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Susan Braden cited deficiencies in the procurement process for the $49.3 million contract, according to the 27-page court decision unsealed yesterday and reported on by Bloomberg today.

"Without a preliminary injunction, the award will put into motion the final migration of Interior's e-mail system, achieve 'organizational lock-in' for Microsoft, and cost Google the opportunity to compete," … Read more

HP discontinues MediaSmart Server line

One of Windows Home Server's staunchest allies is now moving on.

HP has decided to discontinue its MediaSmart Server line of products featuring Windows Home Server. The news was confirmed by Microsoft on its Home Server Blog yesterday.

"HP has told us they do not plan to provide a platform for Windows Home Server, codenamed 'Vail,'" Microsoft wrote on its blog.

Microsoft went on to say that HP plans to sell its existing MediaSmart Server platform through the rest of the year "and will honor service support agreements."

HP reportedly confirmed the news to MediaSmartServer.… Read more

Microsoft's hosted services hit a rough patch

Users of Microsoft's hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint have had to endure a bumpy last couple of weeks, with at least three service interruptions or outages.

Microsoft said in a blog post this week that all of the issues were related to a change in networking infrastructure that the company made last month. The company attempted to fix the issue after a two-hour service interruption on August 23, but the fix didn't solve everything and there were further problems on September 3 and again on Tuesday.

"We aspire to deliver quality services, and in the last … Read more

Microsoft ready to test Windows 7 update

Although much of Microsoft's focus at its partner conference will be on the cloud, many of its product announcements have to do with on-premise software such as Windows and Windows Server.

On Monday, the first full day of its annual Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft is scheduled to announce, among other things, the beta of Service Pack 1 for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The update for Windows 7 is quite minor and consists mostly of previous bug fixes and other tweaks. On the server side, though, the service pack will add some new features around virtualization. … Read more

Microsoft sets price for Windows Intune

Microsoft has put a price tag on keeping Windows in tune.

The software giant said on Monday that it plans to charge customers $11 per computer per month for Windows Intune, a cloud-based service that lets small businesses manage and protect their computers.

Microsoft announced its plans for Windows Intune back in April, but had not yet said how much it would charge for the service when it is ready for mainstream use early next year.

Group product manager Alex Heaton said that Microsoft settled on that price based on what it charges for other online services, such as hosted … Read more

Salesforce releases its Facebook for business

Salesforce.com hopes its new Chatter product will give businesses something to talk about.

After beta testing the collaboration service since February, the company says the product is ready for mainstream use. Although it is designed to compete with Microsoft's SharePoint or IBM's Lotus Notes, Salesforce.com aptly describes Chatter as sort of a Facebook for businesses.

Instead of following old high school classmates, though, Chatter allows workers to follow co-workers, specific business documents, or pieces of data. A sales rep, for example, could follow a pending deal and get updates whenever details on the transaction are updated, … Read more

Ballmer pitches cloud to fellow CEOs

With a high-power crowd in the audience, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer went hard-core with his sales pitch on the role cloud computing will have for businesses in the coming years.

Speaking to about 125 chief executives and other leaders, Ballmer said that truly big shifts in technology actually don't happen all that often.

"The really big ones you have to totally jump on," Ballmer said during a speech at the company's annual CEO Summit, which runs through Thursday at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash. "We are, right now, all of us in the midst of … Read more