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Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2013 Now Available

The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2013 (MDOP 2013) suite of tools for enterprise use can be downloaded today.

This suite of six tools for IT pros contains applications that have been updated since MDOP 2012 was released in November. Microsoft typically updates MDOP in the spring and fall.

In MDOP 2012, two of the tools were still at the beta stage. Now, the Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring 2.0 (MBAM 2.0) tool is out of beta, as well as the Advanced Group Policy Management 4.0 Service Pack 1 (AGPM 4.0 SP1) tool, according to Microsoft's announcement. Microsoft mostly characterized the improvements in the MDOP 2013 tools as facilitating use with Windows 8.

MBAM 2.0 Improvements
A few noteworthy improvements were added to MBAM 2.0, which is a tool that IT pros can use to better manage BitLocker-encrypted drives. The tool now can automate Bitlocker encryption across a Windows 8 environment. Another MBAM 2.0 perk is that it now works with System Center Configuration Manager 2007 and SCCM 2012, according to Microsoft's announcement.

MBAM 2.0 features a self-service portal that can provide support for end users without troubling the help desk. Microsoft also claims that it fixed a reporting problem in MBAM 2.0. Devices now get flagged as being noncompliant if they are less secure than the minimum requirements specified in the organization's policies.

Other tools in MDOP 2013 got some service pack updates, language support expansion, or both. MDOP 2013 contains SP1 updates for APGM 4.0, App-V 5.0, Diagnostic Recovery Toolset 8.0 and User Experience Virtualization 1.0.

New features in the service packs weren't highlighted so much in Microsoft's announcement. One improvement is that the User Experience Virtualization 1.0 (UE-V 1.0) tool now works better with Office 2007. This UE-V tool is designed to let IT pros roam end-user settings across various Windows-based devices.

Gone from the MDOP 2013 suite is the Asset Inventory Service (AIS), which was used to poll software and hardware assets. Microsoft had previously indicated that AIS would be phased out of the suite by April 3, 2013. Those looking for a replacement can look to Windows Intune, which "has the same asset management functionality," according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

MED-V 2.0 and Windows XP
Microsoft had also indicated that it would stop investing in the Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) tool, although it's still part of the MDOP 2013 suite. However, MED-V will be supported throughout the life of Windows 7. The product lifecycle page for MED-V 2.0 indicates that it will lose "extended support" on April 13, 2021.

Forget about the idea of using MED-V as a permanent fix for Windows XP migration problems. Microsoft sees it as a "temporary solution for remediation," and its product lifecycle doesn't change the Windows XP product lifecycle ending date of April 8, 2014, which is when that operating system loses security-patch support and becomes an unsupported (and potentially insecure) product.

In a statement, a Microsoft spokesperson explained why MED-V will get the boot. It's because Windows 7 and Windows 8 have application compatibility.

"As previously announced, we are no longer investing in Windows 8 support for MED-V due to the strong application compatibility between Windows 7 and Windows 8," the spokesperson indicated via e-mail. "MED-V should not be considered a permanent solution [for Windows XP migrations]. We recommend customers use it as a way to continue their Windows 7 deployments when they have an application that is blocking the rollout out, but they should have a plan for updating/replacing that application before XP end of life. That said, MED-V will still be supported through 2021 (because of the 10-year support cycle) and can be used by customers who need a solution for app to OS compatibility going from Windows XP to Windows 7."

The MDOP 2013 suite is available to organizations with Software Assurance coverage as an added cost. Alternatively, organizations can pay extra to get MDOP 2013 through subscriptions to Microsoft's Windows Intune hosted management solution or via Microsoft's Virtual Desktop Access licensing. Downloads links for volume licensing subscribers, as well as Microsoft TechNet and MSDN subscribers, can be accessed at this page.

About the Author

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

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