Intel has updated its vPro PC management platform, created a less capable edition, and brought the product to Chromebooks.
The “vPro Essentials” package is aimed at SMEs and smaller IT services providers who want management tools for their PC fleets but lack the resources to tool up for enterprise-grade kit.
The Essentials package is a subset of full vPro – which is now known as vPro Enterprise. At the time of writing, Intel had not provided The Register with a list of features omitted from the Essentials package.
Stephanie Hallford, Intel’s veep and general manager for the business client platform, said PCs ready for vPro Essentials will be sold through retail outlets – a decision that reflects Intel’s intention to push it to smaller organisations.
With just 17 supported CPUs, however, buyers won’t have a lot to choose from. In a pre-briefing session staged by Intel, Hallford said smaller organisations will see vPro Essentials represent a welcome trade-off: fewer features than the full package, but within reach of their capabilities.
vPro has also been adapted to Chromebooks – a market Intel believes has grown to the point that users want tools to manage large fleets of devices, and could grow further if a mature set of management tools like vPro were available. Just half a dozen Intel CPUs support the new “vPro Enterprise for Chrome.”
The upgraded vPro platform adds hardware-based protection for virtualized workloads, recognising Windows 11’s increased use of desktop virtualization to isolate applications. Windows’s ability to run Android apps also depends on tapping the Hyper-V desktop hypervisor shipped with Microsoft’s flagship OS. Intel and Microsoft put the Wintel alliance to work on this tech so that Chipzilla’s silicon could be tuned to how Windows virtualizes software.
Another addition is “anomalous behavior detection” – tech that can spot unexpected workloads and work with antivirus software to prevent them from running. Intel believes this will make life harder for ransomware-slingers and reduce the attack surface below the operating system.
Out-of-band management over Wi-Fi is another addition, as is keyboard-video-mouse remote control of devices. Further new features allow what Intel has described as “life cycle management features for device sanitization and recovery on select OEM PCs.”
That last one sounds like just the ticket for the burgeoning second-hand PC industry and PC-as-a-service operators. All the enhanced goodies in vPro and its new variants depend on use of 12th-gen Intel Core silicon and assume the presence of Windows. The fortunes of the updated platform are therefore tied to the PC upgrade cycle, which has accelerated a little in recent years as a certain pandemic drove a surge in sales of new machines.
But as Intel acknowledged last week when launching the latest iteration of its Evo thin and light laptop spec, its last generation of silicon emerged a mere nine months ago. Perhaps some buyers sat that one out and will see the new vPro as a good reason to upgrade this time around. ®