Fairly detailed article just published this week on TechNet. Dowload the article here.
Over on the Windows Vista Team Blog they link to an article and a Web site detailing our announcement today of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance. While the name leaves a lot to be desired as usual, the content is potentially extremely valuable. While I do a lot with virtualization on the server side this is a desktop focused technology. When I was at TechReady3, an internal Microsoft conference a couple months ago, I sat in on a session about our acquisition of Softricity and their SoftGrid product. They, and now us, have some really great technology. At the time they were still determining how it would be integrated with our existing offerings. Today we get the answer for the first phase. Softricity's strength is application virtualization. Unlike Virtual Server of Virtual PC which virtualize an entire operating system, SoftGrid virtualizes individual applications in their own container. A simple demo of this that makes the point was them running every version single of Microsoft Word simultaneously on the same desktop. No DLL hell, no compatibility issues, etc because each runs in its own virtual "container" with a virtual registry etc. Another unique aspect of the technology is application streaming. In this scenario, an application is installed on a server when user's want to run it, it is streamed to their machine. The streaming is key because say you want to run Office which is hundreds of MBs, you wouldn't want to have to download the whole thing, install, and run. With application streaming, they analyze the application and determine the specific files needed and the order they are needed to launch Office. Turns out its a small fraction of the whole as you might expect. The streaming technology ensures those are downloaded to the client first. The benefit of this is you can have a centralized application pool, allow clients to access them on demand, and still maintain good performance and end user experience. I don't know much about the other components of the Desktop Optimization Pack but it appears like this offering could go a long way toward alleviating the pain of desktop management.
RedmonMag.com has a good article on Windows Server Core which will be a version of Longhorn server stripped down to the bare essentials for certain infrastructure roles such as domain controller and file/print servers. Server Core has no GUI, a much reduced set of services and applications, etc. The purpose is to reduce the attack surface and footprint of the base OS. This is the beginning of a longer journey to continue to modularize the system.
For those of you with large branch office infrastructures, the combination of Longhorn Server Core and Longhorn's Read Only Domain Controller capability provide for an extremely locked down configuration.