Microsoft sweetens MDOP deal and releases Intune

Windows Intune, Microsoft's cloud-based desktop management console is ready, and an MDOP 2011 update is due this year which will be offered to a wider customer base.

Windows shops who subscribe to Microsoft’s Desktop Optimization Pack can expect a slew of updates and diagnostic tools when a new version of the bundle becomes available later this year.

Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2011 will include the new BitLocker administration software, added improvements to other tools, and availability to more than just Software Assurance customers. In addition, Microsoft’s cloud-based desktop management console Windows Intune is available now.

Windows Intune is a Web-based console that gives IT pros a way to manage the desktop environment from anywhere with an Internet connection. The Intune console gives visibility into alerts, security policies and other information that’s typically available through Systems Center. It can be used to push patch updates and install anti-malware, but this first version can’t be used to deploy new software.

The concept of remote desktop management is nothing new because the services Intune provides have long been available through third-party software and managed service providers. It’s not likely that enterprise customers with concerns about throwing their data to a cloud provider won’t be keen on Intune.

But customers already using some cloud services will be comfortable with the idea of accessing desktop data on the Internet, said Dave Sobel, CEO of the IT services firm Evolve Technologies in Fairfax, V.A.

The Windows Intune client has to be installed on each PC being managed. It is available with a Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade subscription for $11 per PC per month. A free 30-day trial is available now.

MDOP 2011
In MDOP 2011, the Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM), based on the BitLocker feature in Windows 7, gives administrators a simpler way to do BitLocker provisioning and deployment and helps keep track of machines for compliance and reporting. MBAM includes self-service recovery for end user keys, so IT help desk doesn’t have to spend time recovering keys for users anymore. The MBAM beta is available now.

An enhancement to Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) lets IT pros initiate a remote session to do an offline network boot remotely. Prior to this enhancement, admins would have to go to an end user’s desk do an offline boot of the machine to gather information using a USB stick, diagnose the issue, fix it, then bring the machine back online.

A beta of the new DaRT will be available in early April.

Earlier this month, Microsoft also updated MED-V with a 2.0 version is 64-bit compatible and integration with Microsoft Systems Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). That means Med-V guests can be managed the same way as virtual machine hosts. MED-V 2.0 also supports running App-V within a MED-V environment.

The company also released Service Pack 1 for App-V 4.6 with Package Accelerators for much quicker application packaging.

Analysts say MDOP is a good value to SA customers, because the price of using even a few of the tools individually is far more expensive than the cost of MDOP. Now, it’s also available to customers with Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) licenses and to Windows Intune customers. For all of those customers, the MDOP subscription costs $10 per desktop per year.

Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2010 was released in February 2010 and before that, MDOP 2009 for Windows 7 was released in October 2009.

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