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Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization 2.0 Beta Released

Microsoft on Tuesday released a new beta test version of its desktop virtualization solution for organizations.

The beta of Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) 2.0 can be downloaded at the Microsoft Connect page here. Accessing it requires a Windows Live ID and filling out a registration survey.

The other restriction to using MED-V is that Microsoft requires that organizations have the Software Assurance option of Microsoft's volume licensing agreement in place. MED-V is actually one of about six tools in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), all of which are available to Software Assurance licensees.

Microsoft's idea behind MED-V is to let organizations run an older operating system and applications in a virtual machine on top of the Windows 7 desktop. MED-V is described by Microsoft as a more robust desktop virtualization solution than Microsoft's other desktop virtualization offering, Windows XP Mode, which is designed for smaller organizations transitioning off Windows XP. MED-V differs by enabling centralized management by IT pros. Moreover, MED-V can be deployed via Microsoft Systems Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 and newer versions of that management solution.

With the new beta of MED-V 2.0, Microsoft announced that it has standardized the packaging methodology between MED-V 2.0 beta and App-V, which is Microsoft's application virtualization solution in the MDOP suite.

"Customers told us that they are moving toward virtualization of their applications as their primary strategy for the future," explained Karri Alexion-Tiernan, director of product management for Microsoft desktop virtualization, in a blog post. "Naturally, they want to be able to use App-V in conjunction with MED-V so that they have a consistent packaging methodology, regardless of the target. Now, App-V and MED-V are fully tested together and virtual apps can be deployed and managed within the MED-V 2.0 Beta workspaces."

Microsoft also made a lot of small, but surprising, improvements in the MED-V 2.0 beta. For instance, passwords now can be saved to make it easier to sign into the MED-V 2.0 beta desktop (or workspace), according to Dave Trupkin, senior product manager for MED-V and App-V, in a blog post. App-V applications published to MED-V 2.0 beta workspaces are "available to the Windows 7 host automatically." Printing, opening and saving documents in the virtualized space now has the feel of "locally installed applications."

Another improvement is that the guest desktop will hibernate upon logoff or shutdown of the host operating system. You can now share USB thumb drives and smart cards between applications on both the host and guest desktops. Finally, for IT pros who want to point to their legacy Web-based applications using wildcard characters in URLs, that is now possible. IT pros can also include the port number in such URLs, Trupkin explained.

Microsoft indicated in its announcements that it made the improvements in the beta based on user feedback. Most of the improvements in this release seem rather basic. In the end, users may be clamoring to make desktop and application virtualization more of an everyday part of the IT routine, rather than just a migration approach for moving off legacy applications and Windows XP. Microsoft seems to be going there, inch by inch, provided that organizations are willing to pay for Microsoft's volume licensing and Software Assurance.

About the Author

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

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