You can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Microsoft’s “System Center Configuration Manager,” which IT departments can use to manage, update and deploy devices inside their organizations. But you’re probably going to be hearing a lot more about it from now on, because Microsoft just did something completely unexpected.

The upcoming version of System Center Configuration Manager, currently in beta testing, can be used to manage not just Microsoft technologies but also “the wide range of devices that connect to Exchange ActiveSync, including Windows Phone, Symbian, iOS, and Android-based devices.”

No, it’s not April 1.

Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet reported the story earlier today, pointing out that the tool could undercut Microsoft’s argument that iPads aren’t as enterprise-ready as Windows 7 tablets and slates. As she notes, it looks like an example of the conflicting strategies that sometimes arise inside the company, as different product groups pursue what’s best for their own products.

See the Microsoft Download Center for details and to download the beta.

Comments

  • Ze Jibe

    It is interesting to see how quickly some news get wrongly attributed…

    I’m no Microsoft fan (nor defender), but – to my knowledge – Microsoft never *officially* argumented that iPads aren’t for the enterprise. Mary Jo somehow got her hands on an *internal* Microsoft presentation saying so. Now, it happens in all companies of the world that internal people have opposite views (I believe this is even a healthy situation). It is for the company’s leadership to listen to these different positions, and make up their mind (and eventually communicating their decision/vision to the outside world). In this case, it seems that Microsoft has finally opted for a more embracing strategy, than what they’ve done in the past (or that Apple is still pursuing these days).

  • Seanc

    This is called “hedging your bets” and is a wise move for MS. MS’s future comptetitor will not be Apple it will be IBM as they move more and more into Business services.

  • http://scarydevil.com/~peter/ Peter da Silva

    I don’t see this being a conflict. They want to own the ecosystem that manages mobile devices.

  • http://parrotlover77.myopenid.com/ Parrotlover77

    I don’t see what the big surprise is here. MS has long supported non-MS devices with ActiveSync management and even longer with the ActiveSync protocol itself. This is no surprise. It’s very welcome. And I also don’t see how supporting the iPad for device management refutes MS’s claim that W7 tablets are better. It simply acknowledges the reality that iPads do exist and are a part of a modern enterprise, even if they are not ideal enterprise devices (from a security and productivity perspective).

    What’s the next big shocking controversial MS news? That Active Directory allows Macs to enrole into the domain and has for over ten years? Clearly the Server department has conflicting thoughts about how the Mac fits into the enterprise compared to the Desktop Windows department!

  • http://twitter.com/absolutgcs Giri S.

    this is non-news news. since they’re killing off their mdm product, they’re integrating some of that feature set into system center. still relying on activesync to do all the work with non-MS devices, which leaves a lot to be desired for enterprises in terms of consistent behavior of mobile devices based on activesync policy compliance. good sound byte for MS though.

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