Managing PCs using Windows Intune (Part 2) - Preparing Your Environment

by [Published on 25 Oct. 2011 / Last Updated on 25 Oct. 2011]

This article explains how to prepare your environment by setting up Windows Intune and deploying the client software to the PCs you want to manage.

If you would like to read the other parts of this article series please go to:

Introducation

The previous article in this series introduced Windows Intune, a subscription-based cloud service from Microsoft that lets you manage and secure your company's PCs from anywhere using a web-based console. That article provided you with an overview of Windows Intune—what it is, why it's needed, who it's for, what you can do with it, how you can get it, and so on. This present article will walk you through setting up your Windows Intune environment so you can use it to manage your corporate PCs.

Note:
This series of articles is based upon a prerelease version of Windows Intune and the final released version may include additional features not included in this version.

Setting Up Windows Intune

To set up your environment for using Windows Intune, begin by registering for either the 30 day trial subscription or a paid subscription to the service. You can do this from the main Windows Intune page on the Springboard Series site on TechNet.

Once you've registered for using Windows Intune, you need to use Windows Live to sign into the Windows Intune Login page. This link will ask you to associate a Windows Live ID with your Windows Intune subscription, and once you've done this you'll be prompted to download and install Microsoft Silverlight on your computer if you don't already have it installed.

With Silverlight installed, logging into Windows Intune using your Live ID displays the System Overview page of the Windows Intune web-based admin console as shown in Figure 1 below:


Figure 1: The Windows Intune web-based admin console uses Microsoft Silverlight.

Note:
If you have more than one Windows Intune subscription, you'll be presented first with a dialog letting you select the subscription you want to manage. Once you make your selection, the web-based admin console will open to enable you to manage the PCs for that subscription.

Downloading the Client Software

Before you can manage PCs from your Windows Intune web-based admin console, you must deploy the Windows Intune client software to those PCs. The next task in preparing your environment is therefore to download this client software. You can do this in one of three ways:

  1. Log onto each PC you want to manage. Open Windows Explorer and log into the Windows Intune web-based admin console. Select the Administration option (bottom icon in the left pane) and click Client Software Download in the list of administration tasks displayed (see Figure 2 below). Follow the instructions on this web page to prepare your PCs and to download and install the client software on them.
  1. From your admin workstation on which you are already logged onto Windows Intune, select the Administration option and click Client Software Download in the list of administration tasks displayed (see Figure 2 again). After making sure your PCs are prepared (e.g. by uninstalling any existing antimalware programs on them), download the client software to your admin workstation. Then copy the client software either to a network share accessible from the PCs you want to manage or to a USB flash drive so you can transfer the software directly to these PCs.
  1. From your admin workstation, download the client software as option 2 above. Then use Group Policy Software Installation to deploy the client software to the PCs you want to manage. Note that your PCs must belong to an Active Directory domain if you want to follow this approach.

Because we don't want to have to manually "touch" each PC for our test scenario, we're not going to use option 1 above. And because some of our PCs are standalone and not domain-joined, we're not going to use option 3 either. So for this walkthrough we'll use option 2 and copy the client software to a network share and then tell our users to install the software themselves from this share.


Figure 2: Downloading the Windows Intune client software.

To download the client software, click the Download Client Software button in the above screenshot. This displays a dialog box prompting us to open or save the zipped archive containing the client software (Figure 3):


Figure 3: Downloading the client software for deployment to PCs.

In this walkthrough our admin workstation and the PCs we want to manage are all running as virtual machines within a Hyper-V environment, so we'll select Save As in the above dialog box and save the zipped client software to a shared folder on our Hyper-V host. Once the software has been saved to the network share, we'll right-click on it and select Extract All to unzip the software (see Figure 4) so users can install it onto their PCs.


Figure 4: Save the client software on a network share and select Extract All.

Verify the location where the uncompressed files will reside (Figure 5):


Figure 5: Unzip the client software so users can install it onto their PCs.

Figure 6 shows the unzipped files, which consist of a Setup file and an accompanying *.accountcert file that identifies your organization to Windows Intune and associates the client software with your Windows Intune subscription:


Figure 6: The unzipped client software files.

Installing the Client Software

Now instruct each user of a PC in your organization to go to the network share where the unzipped client software is located and double-click on the Windows Intune Setup file to install the client software on their PCs. When they do this, they'll be presented with the opening screen of the Windows Intune Setup Wizard as shown in Figure 7 next:


Figure 7: Step 1 of installing the Windows Intune client software on a PC.

A progress bar will indicate the software is being installed :


Figure 8: Step 2 of installing the Windows Intune client software on a PC.

The user is notified if the installation has been successful:


Figure 9: The client software has been successfully installed.

That's all there is to it! At this point the PC is automatically enrolled in your Windows Intune account and you'll soon be able to manage it from anywhere using the web-based admin console.

Verifying Client Software Installation

Now on your admin workstation, select the Computers option in the left pane of the Windows Intune web-based admin console. Then in the Computers task list, select All Computers, then Unassigned Computers, then switch from the General tab to the Computers tab in the main window pane. You'll see a list of PCs that have successfully contacted the Windows Intune service. Note that your list may not be complete at this point—some PCs may not yet be displayed, and others may not show anything under the Last Status column (see the third PC in Figure 10 below). That's because after you install the client software, the PC contacts Microsoft Update to download additional agents needed for the Windows Intune service to manage the PC. Some of these agents will be downloaded and installed immediately on the PC. Others, such as agents for malware protection and monitoring, will be downloaded now but scheduled for installation later. The full process of downloading and installing agent software on a PC can take up to 8 hours, and once this process has been completed OC is fully enrolled in the Windows Intune service and ready to be managed.


Figure 10: It can take up to 8 hours for all Windows Intune agent software to be download and installed on the PC.

Conclusion

This article has shown you how to prepare your environment by setting up Windows Intune and deploying the client software to the PCs you want to manage. The next few articles of this series will show you how to manage your PCs from anywhere using the Windows Intune web-based admin console.

If you would like to read the other parts of this article series please go to:

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