Microsofts Software Assurance Customers to Get New Tools

The company plans to deliver new software tools designed to remove some of the pain enterprises experience when deploying and managing desktops and applications to customers with a Windows desktop Software Assurance contract.

Microsoft plans to deliver a set of new software tools designed to remove some of the pain enterprises experience when deploying and managing desktops and applications.

The software giant is bundling four of the technologies it has acquired over the past few months into an offering known as the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance, which will be announced at the SoftSummit conference in Santa Clara, Calif., on Oct.17.

But these technologies will only be available as a single, add-on subscription pack, starting in January, to those customers with a Windows desktop Software Assurance contract.

The cost for those users will be $10 a year per desktop, Gavriella Schuster, the senior director of Microsofts Windows client product marketing group, told eWEEK.

The new pack includes the SoftGrid for Windows Desktop product, acquired from Softricity, known as Microsoft SoftGrid, which is used in application virtualization and streaming; and the (Microsoft) Asset Inventory Services technology acquired from Assetmetrix, which lets users run an inventory scanner across their environment to catalog all the software on all the desktops and translates that into reports and analysis.

Also included is the IT administration pack acquired from Winternals, which will be renamed the Microsoft Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset, and which accelerates desktop repair; as well as the GPOVault technology from the DesktopStandard acquisition, which will be renamed Microsoft Advanced Group Policy Management, and which enables granular management of group policy through versioning, change management and delegation.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about Microsofts acquisition of tools vendor Winternals.

Perpetual, nonmaintenance versions of the four products will continue to be available from their original vendors through June 2007 at the current price, but after that will only be available to Windows desktop Software Assurance subscribers, Schuster said.

This latest offering is not tied to the delivery of Windows Vista and will also run on Windows 2000 and Windows XP, Schuster said.

"We have been hearing from customers for the last five years about a consistent set of pain-points, particularly around application compatibility as well as on asset management and application lifecycle management," she said.

Microsoft had been looking at how best it could provide solutions to address those pain-points, including its own existing in-house technologies. "Unfortunately while we were able to do a lot with Vista, we didnt feel that we were able to check the box for all of those pain-points, and so we looked to acquire those technologies so as to robustly deal with those issues," Schuster said.

One enterprise that experienced that pain firsthand is Expedia, which is using Microsoft Asset Inventory Services to reduce its IT management and support headaches, while also gaining insight into the software on the companys 5,700 desktops and other PCs, Terry Blake, its director of IT procurement, said.

"Our first inventory recouped the cost of the service, which we licensed before its inclusion in the Desktop Optimization Pack, eight times over. We thought we were running many more versions of vendor software than we actually were. For the first time, we had solid proof. Before we just had to guess," he said.

Microsoft is also likely to build this new functionality into the core Windows client kernel in the future, "maybe not in the next version, but at some point we certainly want to provide this type of technology to everyone. But the point of Software Assurance is to give early access to new technologies," Schuster said.

Next Page: Software Assurance renewals are on the rise.