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DaRT 8 Beta Recovery Tool for Windows Released

Microsoft on Wednesday announced the availability of a beta test version of its PC recovery solution for IT pros.

The Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset 8 (DaRT 8) beta comes with a few ease-of-use improvements and PowerShell scripting capabilities for repeatability, plus it works with the Windows 8 "consumer preview" beta that Microsoft released late last month. This beta release of DaRT 8 is publicly available to try after filling out a questionnaire at Microsoft's Connect portal here.

DaRT works by allowing a PC user to boot into it and hand over system control to a technician. It can boot from a USB, CD or DVD drive. IT pros also can deploy it via a "preboot execution environment" (PXE) or it can be deployed to the PC's local hard drive. System Center Configuration Manager can also be used to deploy it.

With this release, Microsoft built its DaRT 8 wizard creation tool "on top of Windows PowerShell cmdlets," according to Craig Ashley, a product manager on the Microsoft DaRT team. Four new cmdlets were added. DaRT 8 beta users can use the wizard and then grab the script output for future use or modification, according to Ashley, in a Microsoft Q&A.

The DaRT 8 beta supports WIM and ISO imaging formats. Users can now specify either 32-bit or 64-bit images via a radio button, regardless of their underlying PC hardware. The earlier version of DaRT required the user to be on a machine with hardware that matched the targeted bitness of the image.

USB media is now "natively supported" by the image creation wizard in DaRT 8. In the previous version, additional tools were needed to create USB images.

DaRT 8 supports new hardware specs, such as GUID Partition Tables and the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), which are "integral parts to Widows 8," according to Karri Alexion-Tiernan, director of product management for desktop virtualization at Microsoft, in a blog post.

(UEFI will enable Windows 8's "secure boot" capability. It's an industry-supported specification, but Microsoft's implementation of it in Windows 8 has caused some controversy among the Linux community.)

The DaRT 8 beta is free to try, but using the DaRT tool in a production environment requires that an organization have the right licensing. DaRT is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), which is a suite of six solutions for IT pros that's only free for Microsoft Software Assurance licensees. MDOP is also available as a subscription add-on option for Microsoft Virtual Desktop Access licensees.

An MDOP 2011 R2 Language Update is now available now for TechNet and MSDN subscribers that expands language support to "English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Spanish," according to Alexion-Tiernan's blog post. This language update doesn't come with DaRT 8, however. It contains "localized versions of DaRT 7.0 and Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM)," she noted.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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