Microsoft: Office 365 IT admins get free device-wrangling controls

Selective access, remote wipe, and more ... up to a point

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Microsoft has begun bundling basic mobile device management (MDM) capabilities with all commercial Office 365 subscriptions, as it said it would at last year's TechEd Europe conference.

Beginning on Monday, companies with Office 365 Business, Enterprise, EDU, or Government subscriptions can manage Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices features at no additional charge.

That includes the ability to set security policies so that only compliant devices are allowed to access Office 365 documents and email. Jailbroken devices can be blocked, for example.

Admins can also generate reports showing who has had access to what data and from which devices, and they can even perform selective wipes of employees' devices, where Office 365 data is erased but personal data remains in place.

Redmond isn't exactly giving away the farm, though. While Office 365 subscriptions offer these rudimentary MDM capabilities, more advanced features are missing – the ability to manage Windows PCs with any granularity being the most notable omission.

And for now, at least, Office 365's device management features work best with iPhones and iPads. According to a TechNet document, lots of capabilities that work on iOS aren't available on Android or (oddly enough) Windows Phone 8.1.

For more comprehensive device management options, Microsoft helpfully suggests you subscribe to its Intune service, which offers mobile application management and better control of PCs, among other features.

"This includes the ability to restrict actions such as cut, copy, paste and save as to applications managed by Intune – helping keep corporate information even more secure," Microsoft product manager Shobhit Sahay explained in a blog post.

Office 365's free MDM features, meanwhile, began rolling out in select markets on Monday and will become available worldwide in the next four to six weeks. ®

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