Microsoft Releases Desktop Optimization Update

Microsoft has released a second update (R2) to Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2011 (MDOP 2011 R2), a suite of seven tools for IT professionals running Windows environments. The enterprise-level tools are free for some Microsoft software licensees, such as IT shops with volume licensing agreements and Software Assurance. The suite is also a benefit for users of Windows Intune, Microsoft's PC management suite offered as a pay-by-the-month product for software-as-a-service subscribers.

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

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

Added MBAM is the ability to enable users with standard permissions to initiate the BitLocker encryption process without intervention by IT personnel, according to a Microsoft announcement. Another new feature of MBAM is an option to store recovery key information in an encrypted SQL Server database so help desk personnel don't need 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 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, USB device, or "via the local recovery partition," according to Microsoft's announcement. Another 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.