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Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2011 R2 Released

Microsoft on Monday rolled out a second release (R2) of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2011.

MDOP 2011 R2 is a suite of seven tools for IT professionals running Windows environments. The enterprise-level tools are available as a no-cost perk for certain Microsoft software licensees. For instance, IT shops with volume licensing agreements and Software Assurance can get access to the MDOP tools without additional charge. It's also a benefit for users of Windows Intune, Microsoft's PC management suite that offered on monthly basis to software-as-a-service subscribers.

Organizations with volume licensing and Software Assurance in place can download MDOP 2011 R2 at the newly revamped Volume Licensing Service Center here. It's also available at Microsoft's TechNet and MSDN portals for those subscribers.

The new addition to MDOP 2011 R2 is the Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) tool, which was briefly introduced in February. MBAM helps IT pros better provision and manage encrypted hard disks protected by BitLocker, which is a Windows 7 security feature available with the Enterprise and Ultimate editions.

A new addition to MBAM is the ability to get users with standard permissions to initiate the BitLocker encryption process, without requiring a visit by IT personnel, according to a Microsoft announcement. Also new to MBAM is an option to store recovery key information in an encrypted SQL Server database rather than having to give help desk personnel access to Active Directory to get that information.

Also updated in the MDOP 2011 R2 suite are the Microsoft Diagnostic and Recovery Toolkit 7.0 (DaRT 7.0) and the Asset Inventory Service 2.0 (AIS 2.0).

DaRT is a recovery tool that can be used when PCs become unbootable. Microsoft expanded how the tool can be used in version 7.0. IT pros can talk to users over the phone to reboot a PC using either a network boot (PXE), CD or DVD disk, a USB device or "via the local recovery partition," according to Microsoft's announcement. Another new addition is the ability of IT pros to control a DaRT session via "remote control." Moreover, user access to some of DaRT's capabilities can be restricted by IT.

Microsoft improved AIS 2.0, a cloud-based inventory tool. The new version supports up to 100,000 clients. It's also available in 11 languages. Inventory tracking of App-V packages got upgraded with version 2.0, and the user interface and hardware reporting were improved, according to Microsoft's announcement. Some of these "new" capabilities were perhaps available when the tool was rolled out separately from MDOP in May.

Other tools in the MDOP suite, but perhaps not updated for the R2 release, include Advanced Group Policy Management, Application Virtualization (App-V), Desktop Error Monitoring and Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V).

App-V 4.6 SP1 and MED-V 2.0 were announced in March as part of the first MDOP 2011 release.

About the Author

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

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