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, 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 Exchange and Sharepoint as well as by looking at what separate antivirus and management services cost.
"Each of those things can cost several dollars per month," he said. Microsoft is talking about Intune Monday at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C.
Perhaps the biggest selling point for some businesses, though, will be the fact that Windows Intune also includes upgrade rights to the enterprise edition of Windows 7.
Microsoft is touting an IDC study that says that most businesses have either started moving to Windows 7 or will do so within the next six months. By next year, Microsoft said it believes more than half of new computers being added to businesses will run Windows 7.
For an extra dollar per month, Intune customers can also get a set of local software tools that are part of the "desktop optimization pack" that Microsoft sells to businesses.
Heaton said Microsoft is ready with a second beta version of the service and will expand testing from 1,000 customers in the United States and Canada to 10,000 testers in both North America and several European countries.
"We want people to try the beta," said Heaton. "We want people to see how easy we've made it to manage PCs."
Among the new features in this beta of Windows Intune is a feature for partners that lets them view and manage several customers in a single multi-account console.
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