Niamh Coleman wrote yesterday on the Windows Blog:

http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/business/

A couple of weeks ago at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, we announced that the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2011 R2 would be released in August. Today, I am excited to tell you that MDOP 2011 R2 is now available for download from the Microsoft Volume Licensing site. Customers who do not have access to the Volume Licensing site have the option to download it from TechNet or MSDN and Windows Intune customers have access to MDOP as an addition to their subscription.

The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) is a suite of technologies that helps improve compatibility and management, reduce support costs, increase asset management and improve policy control. MDOP technologies give customers’ better control of the desktop, accelerate and simplify application deployments and management, and enable IT to provide highly responsive service. This can significantly reduce the total cost of ownership of the operating system and entire application management lifecycle.

With MDOP 2011 R2, we have added Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM), Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT) 7.0, and Microsoft Asset Inventory Service (AIS) 2.0. This release builds upon the foundation of MDOP 2011, which was released in March and included Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.6 SP1, Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) 2.0, Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM) 4.0, AIS 1.5, DaRT 6.5, and Microsoft Desktop Error Monitoring (DEM) 3.5.

As a quick refresher, here are the details on the new products available with MDOP 2011 R2:

Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) will simplify deployment and key recovery, centralize provisioning, monitoring, and reporting of encryption status for fixed and removable drives, and also minimize support costs. Key features include:

  • Streamline BitLocker Provisioning: IT professionals can simplify BitLocker provisioning as part of their Windows 7 deployment or they can have the user enable it after their deployment.
  • Generate out of box reports: Users can easily generate compliance reports with out of box reporting.
  • Retrieve recovery keys: IT professionals can quickly and easily retrieve recovery keys via a webpage specifically designed for helpdesk use.
  • Protect recovery keys: By storing recovery keys in an encrypted database you can be sure that they are protected.

Microsoft Diagnostic and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT) 7.0 is a set of tools that helps easily recover unusable PCs, rapidly diagnose problem causes of issues, and quickly repair unbootable or locked-out systems. Key updates include:

  • Remote diagnostics and recovery: Software based remoting means that helpdesk staff can securely diagnose and recover PCs with DaRT without ever visiting the user’s PC or having to reimage the PC.
  • Flexible deployment option: You will have the option to choose the right deployment option, or combination of options, to their individual needs. DaRT can deploy via PXE, USB, CD, DVD, or to the local recovery partition.
  • Increased customization: IT professionals have the ability to create DaRT images that restrict end-user access to tools while making these same tools available to Helpdesk and IT staff.

Microsoft Asset Inventory Service (AIS) 2.0 is a cloud based asset management service that can help make good inventory management decisions and has some of the most requested features customers asked for:

  • Updated/localized UI and improved software reporting: Offers users improved inventory capabilities, with include a more intuitive user interface and reports that are easier to read.
  • Increased scalability and language support: Updates will allow for 100,000 clients to be supported per account and will also now be available in 11 different languages.
  • Comprehensive view of software installation: Customers get a complete view of the software installed on enterprise PCs, manage software and hardware assets, and forecast future needs. The service also analyzes how Microsoft Volume License agreements are deployed to help more easily manage true-ups, renewals, and license reallocation.

As we’ve said in the past customer feedback is an important part of product development and throughout the beta stages of MDOP 2011 R2, we had many conversations with beta participants. Since the DaRT 7.0 beta release in April, customers have shared their excitement, particularly around remote boot, which helps drive the helpdesk cost to support Windows based PCs even lower. Additionally, we found strong interest in MBAM – BT in the United States and Canada and Siemens both shared their experiences on how the product helped simplify BitLocker provisioning and deployments, improve compliance and reporting, and reduce support costs.

The MBAM beta has been available the past few months and Bob Johnson, Director of IT at BT in the United States and Canada said, “We can use MBAM to get greater value from BitLocker. We can ensure that BitLocker is enabled and that we are compliant with corporate encryption mandates without taxing our employees or IT staff.”

Siemens AG also had the chance to evaluate MBAM and Markus Dauberschmidt, senior System Architect in Siemens IT Solutions and Services, said “We believe that using MBAM could make it easy to centrally configure BitLocker and help us ensure compliance and improve protection through better reporting and an intuitive web interface.”

We would like to thank all of our customers and partners who participated and provided feedback on the beta programs for MBAM, DaRT 7.0, and AIS 2.0. Customer feedback is integral to the development of a product and we appreciate your assistance in making MDOP 2011 R2 a success.

We work very closely with our customers and their feedback helps us determine how we invest our resources to develop new technologies. For example, we heard from several customers that one of their biggest pain points was they needed a better way to manage BitLocker, thus we decided to add MBAM to the MDOP suite. Another example is that while customers appreciated DEM, it was not as high on their priority list as other technologies. Therefore we decided to still make DEM available to customers with active Volume Licensing agreements, but we will not be updating DEM in future versions of MDOP.

We hope you will have a chance to experience what’s new with MDOP 2011 R2. To find out more about the products that make up the suite and the benefits and features, please see below or visit the MDOP page on the Windows Enterprise site. For more details on our MDOP customer experiences you can review the Siemens AG and BT in the United States and Canada case studies