Microsoft has released the next version of its desktop management toolset for IT, including updates to its application virtualisation and asset management tools.

Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2008 R2 is now available to users with volume licensing contracts and Software Assurance maintenance contracts.

MDOP is designed specifically to help IT administrators manage collections of Windows desktops, including Vista SP1.

The R2 release does not include the new licence reconciliation features for MDOP's Asset Inventory Service 1.5 (AIS). That update will be available in early November. The AIS 1.5 reconciliation feature tells users if the software deployed in their infrastructure is compliant with their licensing agreements.

Early next year, Microsoft will add to MDOP its Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) software, which is the first Microsoft-branded release of the recently acquired Kidaro technology. MED-V runs multiple versions of Windows or applications concurrently without having to open multiple virtual machine sessions. The software complements another MDOP tool called App-V.

The R2 release does include App-V 4.5 (formerly Softgrid), which introduces integration with System Center management tools, including the System Center Operations Manager 2007 Management Pack for App-V 4.5.
App-V 4.5, which was first made available individually in September, lets users package applications up into "containers," store them on a server where they can be centrally managed, and then stream those containers to desktops, devices or shared PCs.

The 4.5 version is the first developed under Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing and Secure by Default guidelines.

App-V 4.5 also features Dynamic Suite Composition (DSC), which lets virtualised applications share middleware resources; support for 11 languages; and a service provider licence option called Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 Hosting for Desktops.

In addition, Advanced Group Policy Management 3.0 (AGPM) also has been updated to include new settings to enforce the use of the Group Policy change management tool.

MDOP includes AIS; App-V; Enterprise Desktop Virtualization for managing and deploying virtual PCs; System Center Desktop Error Monitoring; Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM) for change management via group policy objects; and the Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset, which helps in recovering a crashed PC.

MDOP is composed of software from Microsoft's purchases of Softricity, Kidaro, AssetMetrix, Winternals Software and DesktopStandard.