Announcing MDOP 2013 R2

Today we are delighted to announce that Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2013 R2 support for Windows 8.1 and the virtualization of Office 2013 is now available for download.

Before we immerse in the details for the latest release, just a brief reminder on what is in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). MDOP is a suite of technologies available as a subscription for Software Assurance customers. MDOP virtualization technologies help personalize the user experience, simplify application deployment, and improve application compatibility with the Windows operating system (UE-V/App-V/MED-V). Additionally, MDOP helps you manage and secure your device, enabling monitoring, and deployment of key Windows features (MBAM/AGPM). Using MDOP shifts desktop repair from reactive to proactive, saving time and removing challenges associated with troubleshooting and repairing system failures (DaRT). MDOP’s popularity with our customers continues to grow from strength to strength, recently increasing to over 50M customer licenses worldwide.

Now let’s dive into the details of what’s in MDOP 2013 R2. In this release we focused on application and settings virtualization with the release of Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.0 SP2 and User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) 2.0 plus support for Windows 8.1 and the virtualization of Office 2013.

Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V)

App-V enables anywhere access to virtualized applications on any authorized PC without application installs. Microsoft’s has a long history of providing flexible application virtualization with powerful management, and making the virtual application behave as if it was locally installed. App-V 5.0 SP2 builds on these solutions through the following new features:

  1. Office 2013 virtualization support.
  2. Shell extension support, enriching the user experience.
  3. Sequencing enhancements, simplifying the virtual application creation process.

Let’s now go into some more detail on these new features in App-V.

Office 2013 support

App-V 5.0 SP2 release extends its support for Microsoft Office 2010 using the Office Deployment Kit that ensures easier deployment and better integration with the Operating System. The current release App-V 5.0 SP2 features a distinct focus on supporting Office 2013 Professional plus (Volume licensing version) App-V Package to work like a natively installed Office 2013. It provides an Office Deployment Tool to create Office 2013 App-V Packages easily, in addition to strong integration with the Operating System.

App-V 5.0 SP2 release maintains its support for two earlier version of Office: Office 2007 and Office 2010, while it strongly recommends Microsoft Office 2013, which is supported only on App-V 5.0 SP2, as a superior experience for IT Professionals and Office users alike. The table below displays a detailed overview of the current supported versions of Microsoft Office on App-V versions, methods of Office package creation, supported licensing, and supported deployments.

Supported
Office Version

Supported
App-V Version

Package Creation

Supported Licensing

Supported Deployments

Office 2007

4.6, 5.0

Sequencing

Volume Licensing

Desktop
Personal VDI
Pooled VDI
RDS

Office 2010

4.6, 5.0

Sequencing
Package Accelerator
Office Deployment Kit

Volume Licensing

Desktop
Personal VDI
RDS

Office 2013 ProPlus App-V Package

5.0 SP2

Office Deployment Tool

Subscription

Desktop
Personal VDI

Office 2013 Professional Plus App-V Package

5.0 SP2

Office Deployment Tool

Volume Licensing

 

Shell extension support

By building on App-V 5.0 investments which delivered you the ability to virtualize highly integrated applications, App-V 5.0 SP2 is providing support for a frequently requested extension point into the operating system, shell extensions. For example if you virtualize a compression program or a backup program that integrated with the Windows shell, you will now see the contextual options that these apps have like send to zip or backup to archive. Essentially this enables the virtual application to behave more like if it was installed locally on your device.

Sequencing enhancements

Powerful and flexible management is a key component of Microsoft’s application virtualization solution, allowing IT to deploy, track and service virtual applications. Continuing the approach, we have made improvements to the sequencer enabling it to automatically detect with the option to include, run time dependencies like MSXML and Visual C++ libraries in the App-V package during the sequencing process.

User Experience Virtualization (UE-V)

App-V is not the only critical component of our virtualization story, we would now like to discuss a second component User Experience Virtualization (UE-V). UE-V is an on premise solution that roams application and Windows settings for the user across each of their devices. This enables users to change devices without reconfiguring their applications or OS settings. UE-V is simple and versatile, which enables IT Pros to control which applications and OS setting groupings should have their settings roam. UE-V can easily integrate and scales through existing tools and infrastructure. UE-V 2.0 continues to deliver on these focus area by:

  1. Support for Windows Store apps, which enables you to personalize these apps across your devices.
  2. Empowering you to control which applications and OS settings roam with the new Company Settings Center.
  3. Delivering enhancements to the underlying synchronization engine to optimize the performance and scalability of UE-V with your existing infrastructure. For the not always connected scenario, this eliminates the UE-V hard dependency on the Offline Files technology. If you already have Offline Files, you can continue to use this Synchronization Method.

For those of you who have not tried UE-V yet, I would strongly recommend checking out our simple UE-V 2.0 evaluation guide. This will give you the steps needed to quickly test with UE-V 2.0.

Let’s now go into some more detail on the latest release of UE-V.

Windows Store app support

We have added Windows 8 app support which enables you to selectively manage how users roam their application settings, across the full application spectrum from mainstream Microsoft Store apps, purchased commercial apps, to in house developed line of business apps. Administrators can define which Windows 8 apps are synchronized and all the apps that come out of the box in Windows 8 and 8.1 can roam their settings by default. The triggers used to roam the Windows 8 apps settings are on open, close, loss of focus and by default every 30 minutes. Now your users can roam their complete application experience, be it with desktop applications and/or Windows 8 and 8.1 apps and get a consistent personal experience.

Company Settings Center

To give you and your users more flexibility and control we have included a new feature called Company Settings Center which installs with the UE-V agent. If enabled by administrators, Company Settings Center allows users to control, view and troubleshoot application and OS settings monitored by UE-V. The Company Settings Center also allows the user to manually sync their settings without having to wait for an automatic sync to occur. Users access the Company Settings Center from the Control Panel, Start menu or Start screen, and from the UE-V tray icon.

Synchronization improvements

To enhance how UE-V integrates and scales into your existing infrastructure, we have also made updates to the sync provider. In UE-V 1.0 SP1 we synchronized application settings when an application opened or closed, and your Windows settings on lock and unlock, login or logoff, lock or unlock, or RDS session connect or disconnect start. The new sync provider in UE-V 2.0 now also allows a sync at specific intervals that you can define (default is every 30 minutes) and eliminates the need for the UE-V hard dependency on the Offline Files technology in Windows which was previously required for users who were not always connected. If you already have Offline Files, you can continue to use this Synchronization Method.

Additional production updates to MDOP 2013 R2, supporting Windows 8.1

Other product updates in MDOP 2013 R2, which illustrate our commitment to making Windows even easier to adopt and manage, include managing BitLocker and Group Policy in Windows 8.1 with Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) 2.0 SP1 (which also includes multi-language support) and Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM) 4.0 SP2, plus the latest version of the Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 8.1 also supporting the Windows 8.1 release.

We would also like to announce the availability of App-V 4.6 SP3. This release provides Windows 8.1 support for existing App-V 4.6 customers as they continue their transition to App-V 5.0 SP2.

To learn more about MDOP, make sure to visit our Windows Enterprise website and the MDOP Zone on the Springboard Series on TechNet and don’t forget to visit the TechNet forums. If you already own MDOP, then you can download MDOP 2013 R2 from the Volume Licensing Service Center.  MSDN and TechNet paid subscribers can also download it from MSDN or TechNet.

Finally do check out the MDOP 2013 R2 announcement on the Windows For Your Business blog. Here you will learn how our customers and partners are reaping the benefits of deploying MDOP in their organizations.

This blog post is part of a series of guest posts we’re publishing in the coming weeks on MDOP 2013 R2. – Ben

Ronald Dockery
Senior Product Marketing Manager
Windows Commercial