This blog post wraps up my series of entries on how the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) can help make the move to Windows 7 a bit easier. Just to recap, I described the MDOP products that you can use during the Planning, Deployment, and Operating phases of your project to help make the work more efficient and less frustrating and possibly a little fun (yes, IT can be fun with the right tools):

Planning phase:

·         Microsoft® Asset Inventory Service (AIS). AIS can help you better understand the hardware and software in your inventory while you’re planning Windows 7 deployment. This information can help you plan hardware upgrades, compatibility testing, application migration, and so on.

·         Microsoft System Center Desktop Error Monitoring (DEM). DEM is an agentless monitoring system that can help give you a deeper understanding of the errors in your environment. For example, what are the top application errors that users are experiencing? By deploying DEM early in the Planning phase, you can establish a baseline for monitoring the stability of your environment during the Deployment and Operating phases. Nothing is better than real-world data when judging the stability of your deployment.

Deployment phase:

·         Microsoft® Application Virtualization (App-V). By virtualization your applications, App-V can help make it easier to not only deploy applications but to also maintain them over time. Virtualized applications don’t leave a heavy footprint on computers, so removing and updating them is super easy. Deploying applications to users is a simple matter of assigning users to applications. Where this fits in to the Deployment phase is App-V makes packaging applications easier, sometimes reducing the packaging time from hours to just minutes.

·         Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V). MED-V provides a solution for provisioning and managing virtual machines on desktop computers. As you know, virtual machines on the desktop are a great solution for running applications and Web sites that aren’t compatible with Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8, respectively. MED-V provides a solution around deploying and managing these virtual machines. By using MED-V to deploy virtual machines, you can take advantage of everything Windows 7 has to offer while continuing to use older applications.

Operating phasing:

·         Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM). Group Policy is one of the simplest and best ways to take control of the computers in your organization. Organizations moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 will find that Windows 7 provides many more opportunities to manage settings. However, Group Policy doesn’t provide a role-based workflow for managing Group Policy objects (GPOs). AGPM provides that missing role-based workflow, allowing you to manage who can edit, review, approve, and deploy them in to production. I wouldn’t imagine using Group Policy in any environment without using AGPM.

·         Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT). Things happen—especially when you’re touching so many computers when deploying Windows 7. For example, you might deploy a faulty device driver that previous Windows 7 from starting. A user might permanently delete important files when preparing for installation, and you need to recovery them. For many of these one-off problems, DaRT provides a set of tools that you can use to troubleshoot and repair them. Like AGPM, DaRT is super easy to set up, and it doesn’t leave a foot print on your infrastructure.

As I said when I first started this series of blog posts, don’t wait until you’ve already deployed Windows 7 to start using MDOP. The best time to deploy MDOP is when you begin planning deployment. You can learn more about how MDOP can help optimize Windows 7 deployment by reading the article Optimizing Windows 7 Deployment with MDOP. While you’re at it, give MDOP a test drive in a lab environment. Existing MDOP customers can download MDOP at the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). You can also download MDOP at MSDN® and TechNet.