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Microsoft Issues MDOP Betas, Plans MED-V Phase Out

New betas for the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) were released this week, and Microsoft also announced plans to phase out its MDOP desktop virtualization solution.

The company stated that it "will not invest" in its Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) solution for Windows 8, according to a Tuesday Microsoft blog post, although MED-V will still be supported on Windows 7. No reason was given for the phase-out plans, but Windows 8 comes with Microsoft's Hyper-V for the desktop, which will enable desktop virtualization, possibly making MED-V superfluous.

MED-V, which is part of a suite of about six MDOP tools aimed at IT pros, allows apps to run in a virtual machine using an older Windows guest operating system that's hosted on Windows 7. The idea is for organizations to use MED-V as a temporary measure to help ensure application continuity before migrating from Windows XP or Windows Vista.

Microsoft has made such changes to the MDOP suite before. Back in April, the company announced plans to phase out its Asset Inventory Service (AIS) from MDOP on April 3, 2013. AIS is a service that lists software and hardware in a computing environment.

In other MDOP news, Microsoft announced some new test releases now available for download at the Microsoft Connect portal (requires sign-up). A beta of Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) 2.0 is available. Also released this week is a beta of Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM) 4.0 Service Pack 1, which is a tool designed to help keep track of the administrative control of Group Policy Objects.

A third test solution available now on Microsoft Connect is Diagnostic Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 8.0. It's available at the "release candidate" stage. DaRT is used to jumpstart problem PCs. A USB drive with DaRT on it can be plugged into a PC or DaRT can boot from a CD or DVD drive. IT pros also can deploy DaRT via a "preboot execution environment" (PXE) or through System Center Configuration Manager. DaRT 8.0 now works with Windows 8.

By the end of this month, Microsoft plans to release a second beta of its User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) tool, which is the newest addition to MDOP that was rolled out in April. UE-V for Windows 7 or Windows 8 promises migration of the user's desktop and application settings across various Windows devices. Beta 2 of UE-V adds Group Policy support for agent configuration and the ability to roam settings between Internet Explorer versions 8, 9 and 10.

Microsoft provided a few more details about what to expect in MBAM 2.0., which is a Windows 7 client tool designed to help IT pros more easily provision and deploy BitLocker encryption on portable device drives. Version 2.0 adds a "self-service recovery portal" that lets end users help themselves when they've lost a password, according to a Microsoft blog post. MBAM 2.0 also weeds out guessable personal identification numbers (PINs), such as "1234." It has a new compliance enforcement feature for end users who delay encrypting their drives. Version 2.0 now can be managed by System Center Configuration Manager and it will work with devices compliant with the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS).

MBAM 2.0 apparently works with Windows 8, per Microsoft's blog, or it will have some improvements when used with Windows 8. For instance, it will permit faster drive encryption when used on machines that have a new "encrypted hard drive" technology. In such cases, the encryption process takes place "within seconds," according to the blog.

The MDOP suite isn't for everyone. The whole suite of tools is available for purchase as an option under some Microsoft licensing plans, most notably for those organizations that have subscribed to Microsoft's Software Assurance annuity option. It's also available for purchase with Windows Intune subscriptions or Virtual Desktop Access licensing.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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