How to use iPhone Configuration Utility to manage school iPads with Windows. No Mac required.
I often get asked whether it is possible to manage school iPads with Windows. An iMac or Macbook is a big additional cost for many schools, so many people would like to know whether there is a Windows alternative to Apple Configurator.
The answer is, yes, you can manage iPads with Windows, but you may decide it’s easier just to buy a Mac! Let’s take a look at Apple’s iPhone Configuration Utility for Windows.
Managing iPads with Windows
iPhone Configuration Utility (iPCU) is a free application for Windows and Mac that allows you to install configuration profiles and apps on iOS devices. Despite the name, iPhone Configuration Utility works with iPad, Apple TV, and iPod Touch as well as iPhone. As you will see, however, iPCU is not a replacement for Apple Configurator, although it does have some overlapping features.
iPhone Configuration Utility is essentially a cut down version of Apple Configurator. It allows you to create and apply configuration profiles and apps to iPads, but does not contain many of the core features that makes Apple Configurator such a useful tool for managing iPads.
Most of the same configuration profile settings are available, but because iPCU can’t supervise iPads, options which require device supervision are not available. If you’ve used Apple Configurator you’ll be familiar with the settings available:
- General Settings
- Passcode Setting
- Restriction Settings
- WiFi Settings
- VPN Settings
- E-Mail Settings
- Exchange ActiveSync Settings
- LDAP Settings
- CalDav Settings
- Subcribed Calendars Settings
- CardDav Settings
- WebClip Settings
- Credentials Settings
- SCEP Settings
- MDM Settings
- APN Settings
iPhone Configuration Utility also has other limitations, which make Apple Configurator the preferred choice for most. It can’t, for example, password protect profiles from being removed, backup your iPad data, supervise iPads, or bulk install volume purchased apps. iPCU is really designed for businesses to distribute settings to employees where they can rely on the end user installing and managing the profile themselves.
Apple Configurator vs iPhone Configuration Utility
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iPhone Configuration Utility can apply settings to multiple iPads, but not synchronously as you can with Apple Configurator. Although you can connect multiple iPads at once applying settings and apps using iPCU is a much more manual process.
Although no official confirmation has been released it appears Apple considers iPhone Configuration Utility a legacy application. The Mac version hasn’t been updated since January 2013, and the Windows version is nearly a year older than that. Also, neither version has been updated to support iOS 7 which limits the application’s use and doesn’t allow for the use of iOS 7 specific features such as Web Content Filtering.
Overall iPhone Configuration Utility provides the core functionality of Apple Configurator without the bulk management features. If you’re looking at using iPads in your school Apple Configurator is worth the additional investment, especially if you are buying more than a few iPads.