Microsoft extends Windows 8 management features in Desktop Optimization Pack

The IT management suite, commonly known as MDOP, deepens its IT administration capabilities over Windows 8 PCs

Microsoft has released the latest version of its Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) suite of IT management tools, an upgrade that deepens its ability to manage Windows 8 PC deployments.

MDOP 2013, available now via download for the company's Software Assurance licensing program subscribers, boosts the product's BitLocker administration capabilities and group policy management features for Windows 8, Microsoft said on Wednesday.

With the product's previous upgrade, MDOP 1012, released in November of last year, Microsoft introduced Windows 8 support for three of the suite's components: Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (UE-V), Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.0, and Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 8.0.

In MDOP 2013, the Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) tool gets a big upgrade to version 2.0, including Windows 8 support.

However, IDC analyst Al Gillen doesn't see the Windows 8 support as a big attraction for the mostly large enterprises that subscribe to Software Assurance and use MDOP, because they haven't widely deployed the new OS on their PCs.

"Given the adoption of Win8 in enterprise accounts, I don't think that's going to be the lead feature for a lot of customers today," Gillen said. "The Windows 8 support in MDOP is probably not super critical for them."

However, Microsoft is anticipating future demand, as it should. "Microsoft couldn't possibly say: 'We haven't updated MDOP for Windows 8 because no one is using Windows 8 yet.' They couldn't send that message out. The correct presumption is that customers will over time move to Windows 8 and to the [Windows] versions that follow it," Gillen said.

MBAM 2.0 features a new Self Service Portal for end users, integration with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 and 2012, reporting enhancements, and simplified provisioning for Windows 8.

The integration with SCCM is particularly noteworthy, because MBAM is an encryption technology and for IT managers to apply it to their organization's PCs, they have to do it from a central management console, he said. "Having the SCCM integration makes [MBAM] a lot more consumable for larger enterprises," Gillen said.

Other enhancements to the suite include change management for Windows 8 Group Policy in the Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM) tool and improved malware discovery in DaRT.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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