Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2014 R2 Released
The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2014 R2 suite of tools for enterprise software management can now be downloaded.
The new release is an incremental update to the MDOP 2014 suite of tools that was released back in May. The R2 version mostly contains improvements to two of the six tools in the suite. Specifically, it includes a new Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.0 Service Pack 3, plus a new User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) 2.1 tool.
MDOP 2014 R2 can be downloaded from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center at this page. However, it's just for enterprises that have opted into the Software Assurance licensing program offered by Microsoft, or for organizations with Microsoft Intune subscriptions or Virtual Desktop Access licensing from Microsoft.
MDOP is included with Software Assurance, but it's an extra cost for Microsoft Intune or VDA licensees.
App-V 5.0 SP3
Microsoft's latest application virtualization solution was improved to bolster some of its management capabilities. For instance, Microsoft smoothed over some of the "connection groups" capabilities in App-V 5.0 SP3. With connection groups, applications can be grouped together, and that lets organization manage them "like locally installed software," according to Microsoft's announcement.
App-V is used to package applications to run on a virtual machine on a server, and IT pros can now set up a connection group that includes optional and nonoptional packages with App-V 5.0 SP3. Microsoft's example to illustrate this case is that an organization might want to set up a Microsoft Office package but they might also want to include plug-ins for some users. Those Office plug-ins can be added by including optional packages in the general connection group. In addition, optional and nonoptional packages can now be deleted from a connection group, without having to reenable the connection group.
Connection groups can now include "user-published and globally published packages." Alternatively, organizations can now prohibit end users from enabling connection groups or publishing packages. It's now possible to disable a connection group for a specific user. Updating connection groups can now be simplified somewhat by compelling them to accept any version of a package. Organizations also can merge identical package paths via a single virtual directory in a connection group, which has the added benefit of permitting file access across different packages for the virtualized apps.
Microsoft has a more complete rundown of these specific App-V 5.0 SP3 improvements in this TechNet library article.
Microsoft added four improvements to UE-V 2.1, which is its user settings virtualization solution. First, UE-V 2.1 now permits external enterprise cloud-based storage services to store OS and apps settings. The examples Microsoft provided included "OneDrive for Business, Work Folders, SharePoint, etc." so that likely means other storage services are supported. Second, UE-V 2.1 now supports Windows credentials roaming, which retains user credentials across devices. Third, IT pros can now assign a backup profile to the UE-V template, which will set a restore point for a device. Lastly, Microsoft added some extensions to UE-V Office 2013 settings, including "enhanced Outlook signature synchronization and default UE-V Office 2013 settings templates."
MDOP 2014 R2 also includes four other tools, which apparently weren't updated for this release since no changes were mentioned. Those four tools include Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization 2.0, Microsoft Advanced Group Policy Management 4.0 SP2, Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring 2.5 and the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit 8.0. A list of the MDOP tools can be found at this page.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.