Microsoft Ignite 2018, has kicked off and without wasting any time, Brad Anderson made a huge announcement for Intune that finally answers the problem of deploying Win32 applications via the cloud. In its 25th year, the mega-conference brings together the best and brightest in the industry and showcases the bleeding edge in hardware and software within Microsoft’s ecosystem in a sprawling and decadent affair.

This is one conference I make a point of attending.

Last year at this time, I discussed Microsoft’s introduction of co-management where Windows 10 devices could be managed through both Microsoft Intune and System Center Configuration Manager. Co-management remains a helpful bridging technology for organizations that need to transition to Intune with less pain.

Over the intervening year, however, it has become apparent that co-management hasn’t hit the mark for customers that want to exclusively use cloud-based management with Intune for their Windows 10 devices. Its limited capability for delivering complex Win32 applications over the mobile device management protocol turned out to be a serious problem for many customers.

Intune did support simple Windows Installer packages (i.e., single MSI file installers with all files inside the MSI package), but most enterprise software cannot be delivered using simple installers. As a result, I saw customers trying all sorts of practices to fulfill this requirement and they were time-consuming, often discombobulated, and, in the end, costly to maintain.

Ideally, we want to use modern application package formats such as MSIX that are built from the ground up to support delivery via the cloud, but the upfront complexity for MSIX alternatives are daunting in addition to having to develop new support workflows and train IT staff to use this homebrew approach doesn’t make sense.

The main opposition to using Configuration Manager’s application model is the considerable technical requirements needed to support its vast infrastructure to service devices.

Secondarily, SCCM does provide internet-facing components. If you are developing a modern desktop strategy or are thinking about one, you want an infrastructure that natively supports Internet-facing components which adds additional infrastructure requirements for your Configuration Manager environment.

Some customers wanted to make a clean break from Configuration Manager, while others were small enough that using Configuration Manager is just not cost effective. Which brings us to Today’s announcement.

Put simply, Intune now supports complex Win32 application delivery without the need for SCCM. Microsoft does not intend for Intune to be as mature with legacy application delivery when compared with Configuration Manager and I believe that it should never be either. I see this as more of a bridge to alleviate the pain that customers have today as their application portfolio evolves.

If this has caught your interest there is already a great technical run-through of how you can use this new capability to get those Win32 apps out the door.