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Microsoft Releases Desktop Optimization Pack 2013 R2 with Windows 8.1 Support

The R2 version of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2013 got released this week.

MDOP is a suite of six tools for enterprises that's typically obtained as an add-on cost to Software Assurance or Virtual Desktop Access licensing or Windows Intune subscriptions. Notable with this release is tools support for Windows 8.1. However, the Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) tool included in MDOP 2013 R2 just supports Windows 7. Microsoft announced plans to phase out further MED-V development back in June.

The MDOP 2013 R2 suite includes the following updated tools with support for Windows 8.1:

  • Applications Virtualization (App-V) 5.0 Service Pack 2: an application virtualization solution designed, in part, to help organizations run software without versioning conflicts
  • App-V 4.6 Service Pack 3: a transitional release that adds Windows 8.1 support for organizations that can't yet move to App-V 5.0 SP2, but IT pros should check Microsoft's cautionary note about App-V 4.6
  • User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) 2.0: a solution that captures user settings to enable desktop preferences to roam across devices
  • Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) 2.0 Service Pack 1: a tool for more easily managing Microsoft BitLocker drive encryption on devices
  • Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 8.1: a PC recovery tool for IT pros that can be deployed via bootable media
  • Advanced Policy Group Management (APGM) 4.0 Service Pack 2: a tool for tracking Group Policy Objects

The tool getting the most discussion by Microsoft with this release of MDOP is App-V 5.0 SP2. It can be used to run the volume licensing version of Office 2013 Professional Plus or the subscription version of Office 2013 ProPlus in an application virtualization scenario. Using it to run Office 2013 Professional Plus enables it to work "like a natively installed Office 2013" application, according a blog post by Ronald Dockery, a senior product marketing manager for Windows Commercial.

App-V 5.0 SP2 also supports volume licensing versions of Office 2007 and Office 2010. However, package creation appears to be a bit more limited with Office 2007. Dockery's blog post includes a table outlining App-V support across the three Office versions.

Microsoft also added shell extension support to App-V 5.0 SP2, which allows compressed applications to be virtualized. The sequencing process carried out with App-V 5.0 SP2 can now include run-time dependencies, such as Visual C++ and MSXML libraries, according to Dockery.

UE-V 2.0 now supports Windows Store apps, which are the applications that run on the "Modern" or "Metro" side of Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. UE-V 2.0 includes a new feature, called the "Company Settings Center," which allows end users to troubleshoot their app and operating system settings, if that capability is enabled by the IT department. Microsoft also changed UE-V synchronization process so that it's no longer dependent on "Offline Files" technology. In addition, UE-V synchronization now can be set to take place at specific time intervals.

Current MDOP users can download the new R2 version the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center here. It's also available now for Microsoft's TechNet and MSDN subscribers.

Microsoft claims it has more than 50 million customer licenses to date for its MDOP suite.

About the Author

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

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