As of System Center SP1, the answer is the latter: Windows RT devices can be managed directly by System Center Configuration Manager. In addition, when an update is released in early 2013, Microsoft's Intune cloud-based management tool will also be able to manage these devices.
Today, System Center Configuration Manager and Intune do not interoperate, but thanks to SP1, they'll work together through the Configuration Manager console. That way, you can use one console to manage all your devices.
This means Microsoft is increasing its reliance on EAS, while also shifting away from Exchange as the platform to control devices. That makes sense, as Exchange is oriented around email, which no longer defines the mobile experience as it did in the BlackBerry's heyday. System Center and Intune are meant to manage the whole ecosystem of user devices, so they make sense as the new center for device management.
These moves also signal Microsoft's wholehearted embrace of the BYOD revolution it enabled in the first place, giving its own devices equal status with Apple's and Google's, as well as cementing the notion of managed heterogeneity as the new normal for IT.
This story, "Microsoft finally joins the BYOD revolution it enabled," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.