Novell hopes to cut complexity for small and medium-sized businesses with a product to manage Windows desktops.

Zenworks Configuration Management, demonstrated at Cebit in Hannover, Germany this week, can manage desktops running Windows versions from Windows 2000 to Vista, said Martin Buckley, product management director of Novell's systems and resource management business unit.

The software runs on either Windows 2003, Suse Enterprise Linux or Novell Open Enterprise Server, and integrates with Novell's eDirectory and with Microsoft Active Directory without the need for metadirectory software such as Novell Identity Manager, he said.

Doing without Novell Identity Manager won't cut software licensing costs, as the product is already included with Zenworks, but it will cut indirect costs by eliminating the need for additional hardware and support to run it, he said.

The directory integration allows the IT managers to control the desktop according to policies related to the user's role, for example by installing different applications or allowing access to specific network resources.

"It will manage deployment, software distribution, asset management and of course patching," Buckley said.

Zenworks Configuration Management is still in beta testing with 30 customers, and should go on sale by the end of June, he said.

Among the beta testers is Virgin Radio Ltd., a UK broadcaster with operations in London and Glasgow. Management based on policies and roles is particularly important there because the IT needs of a finance manager and a DJ are very different, Buckley said.