Microsoft Endpoint Manager Enables AOSP Android Device Management via Premium Add-On
Microsoft this week announced the ability to manage Android Open Source Project (AOSP) devices through Microsoft Intune, which is available as a “premium” add-on to Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM) subscribers.
The AOSP management capability was released in the “General Availability” commercial release phase. Intune can already manage Android devices, but some Android devices that use AOSP implementations don’t meet Google’s certification requirements. Microsoft’s AOSP MEM premium add-on capability allows organizations to manage such devices without having to comply with Google’s regulations.
The AOSP management issue
Here’s how Microsoft described the scenario its AOSP MEM premium add-on aims to tackle:
Due to the flexibility of the Android platform, not all variants of the Android Open Source platform meet Google’s certification requirements for integration with Google Mobile Services (GMS). Integration with GMS is required to enable certain capabilities, such as access to the Google Play Store and Firebase Cloud Messaging based push notifications. Many devices that are now becoming critical in business scenarios do not have the ability to leverage GMS, but still need to be managed along with other devices to securely access corporate resources and protect sensitive information.
There are not many Android devices that currently fit into the scenario described above. Microsoft listed only one such product line, which is RealWear devices.
“Right now, RealWear devices (running Android 10.0 and above) are the only supported devices for AOSP management in Microsoft Endpoint Manager,” the announcement said.
These RealWear devices apparently fall under Microsoft’s definition of “special devices” used with Intune. The definition of special devices can be found in this Microsoft document.
MEM Premium portfolios are coming
When it comes to Intune management, Microsoft has special MEM premium add-on plans for specialty devices, which will be sold as part of a “future premium portfolio,” the announcement said. This bundle of capabilities for managing dedicated devices incurs additional licensing costs for organizations.
Here’s how the announcement featured Microsoft’s plans:
When we’re ready to launch our new plans for advanced endpoint management, an additional license will be required to manage and protect specialty devices, including RealWear, as an add-on to your subscription that includes Microsoft Intune. For more information, see Manage special devices with Microsoft Intune.
However, at this time, organizations using RealWear devices only need a subscription to Intune to use the newly released AOSP management capabilities, the announcement clarifies. Microsoft did not specify when it would launch this new “advanced endpoint management” bundle.
The MEM Premium Shift
The idea that Microsoft plans to charge MEM customers extra for premium add-ons dates back to April, when Microsoft kicked off the concept. At the time, Microsoft outlined some plans to add additional Intune functionality under the MEM premium banner.
MEM plans include Intune, Microsoft’s mobile management tool. What’s new, however, is that there will be a charge for premium MEM add-ons that will amplify Intune functionality.
The general idea of Microsoft’s subscriptions, which may involve monthly or annual subscription payments, is that organizations contribute to the ongoing development of Microsoft’s products. However, the additional cost for MEM subscribers to use premium add-ons represents a turning point from that general concept.
The first premium MEM add-on was released in April. It was Remote Help, a “secure” help desk service integrated with MEM. It was then priced at “$3.50 per user per month” and had other requirements, such as E3 or E5 licenses.
Kurt Mackie is a senior news producer for 1105 Media’s Converge360 group.