March 24, 2011, 9:28 AM — Microsoft hates when customers buy products that weren't built in Redmond, but Steve Ballmer and crew aren't going to miss a moneymaking opportunity, even if that means managing iPhones, iPads, Androids and, yes, even Linux computers.
"When are you going to manage devices other than Windows?" is one of the most frequent questions Brad Anderson, Microsoft corporate vice president for management and security, gets from customers, he said at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas Wednesday.
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That's why Microsoft said it has added support for iPhones, iPads, Android and Symbian devices (in addition to Windows Phone 7) to the second beta of System Center Configuration Manager 2012, which was made available online Wednesday. There was no mention of BlackBerry, with Microsoft perhaps figuring that Research in Motion has the market cornered in managing its own mobile platform.
Adding support for non-Windows phones will make it easier for IT managers to set policies on passwords and wipe phones when they're lost, although Microsoft still doesn't have the ability to manage personal and corporate data separately on the same phone. (See also: "At Microsoft, don't forget your password or your phone gets wiped.")
To be sure, Microsoft doesn't extend all of its management capabilities to non-Microsoft devices and software. Microsoft's Windows Intune Web-based desktop management system went live on Wednesday, but seems to be focused on Windows PCs only. The System Center management suite, additionally, can manage the Windows Azure cloud service but not competing clouds such as Amazon EC2.