Microsoft is gradually accepting that Windows PCs will not dominate business computing forever.
Today, the company announced that the next version of its System centre management software will let companies patch and push software to non-Windows devices — including iPads and iPhones, Android phones and tablets, and Symbian phones.
The move might undercut one of Microsoft’s big sale points for its own upcoming Windows tablets. Earlier this year, Microsoft handed out talking points to its sales partners explaining how they could counter the rise of the iPad in enterprises. One of the big selling points was management.
But Microsoft’s product teams are responsible for their own success, and the System centre team apparently realised that it can’t sell a management product that ignores such an obvious trend. A recent study from UK research firm Catalyst predicted that companies would buy more than 1 million tablets this year — up from 20,000 in 2010.
Most of those tablets probably won’t run Windows.
The updated management product, System centre Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2012, will also add support for Windows Phone 7, bringing Microsoft’s mobile OS back to par with the old Windows Mobile platform. Lack of support for enterprise management tools was one knock against Phone 7 when it came out last fall.
The update was announced at Microsoft’s Management Summit — normally a pretty bland event — and as ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports, it created quite a stir among attendees.
The second beta of SCCM 2012 is available for IT departments to download and test today.