Available as a subscription, Microsoft's Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) includes several components aimed to allow organizations to customize, secure and manage the user experience on Windows devices. The software bundle includes Application Virtualization (App-V), User Experience Virtualization (UE-V), Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM), BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) and Microsoft's Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT).
The latest version boasts improved security, according to Microsoft Senior Director Stella Chernyak. "MDOP 2014 includes Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring tool (MBAM) 2.5, which represents a substantial update to our BitLocker management solution." BitLocker is Microsoft's drive encryption technology, which thwarts the theft of data in the event a computer's hard drive is lost or stolen.
"MBAM is leveraged by organizations to simplify BitLocker deployment, key recovery and compliance reporting," wrote Chernyak in a blog post. And in the new release, it offers enhanced support for Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2, a security standard that governs cryptographic safeguards on government computers. The updated tool "takes advantage of Windows 8.1's new FIPS-compliant recovery key password or the Data Recovery Agent (DRA) protector, a capability also supported for Windows 7 devices."
MBAM 2.5 makes it easier for administrators to lock down user systems. In the past, users could postpone encryption processes. Now, admins are in control. "MBAM 2.5 now includes automatic encryption enforcement, provides grace periods for encryption postponement and it can now enforce the use of strong PINs," she said.
Extending its reach beyond end-user devices, the tech "can now be deployed on Windows Server in a high-availability configuration," Chernyak wrote. In addition, its Web components can be load-balanced and its databases deployed to SQL Server failover clusters for a high availability safety net.
On the Application Virtualization (App-V) front, the new spring update for version 5.0 SP2 integrates with MDOP's User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) profile management technology for application publishing and launch operations. App-V now supports parallel application deployment scenarios, enabling organizations to test upgraded virtual apps while maintaining access to the original for users on the same device.
App-V "enables anywhere access to virtualized applications on any authorized PC without application installs," Ronald Dockery, Windows Commercial senior product marketing manager, said in a statement Microsoft "has a long history of providing flexible application virtualization with powerful management" and giving virtualized applications the performance characteristics of natively installed software.
Responding to customer feedback, Dockery revealed other App-V enhancements, including improvements to the package conversion engine and sequencer and virtual file system (VFS) write mode sequencer support. In addition, the company has issued new guidance for optimizing application performance on App-v 5.0 SP2.
MDOP is available for download now at the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center.