Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2008 Released

Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2008 Released

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Today marks the release of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2008 - a set of tools for IT Pros managing IT environments for companies who have purchased MDOP plus Windows Software Assurance agreements with Microsoft. There are two key product updates in this release I'd like to highlight that I think IT Pros will find very useful  - Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset 6.0 (DaRT) and Desktop Error Monitoring 3.0 SP1 (DEM).

For those of you not familiar with DaRT, it provides a set of tools for IT Pros to debug and troubleshoot unbootable PCs.  DaRT 6.0 brings in some new tools worth taking note of. Tools such as Locksmith can reset a local administrator password, while Hotfix Uninstall can remove a bad hotfix.  This is especially useful if the hotfix was the cause of the PC crash.  Perhaps one of the simplest uses for DaRT is to recover files from the PC, even if they have been removed from the recycle bin.  One of the new features in DaRT 6.0 is the Standalone System Sweeper, an antimalware product that runs while the Windows operating system is unbootable.  This tool, which can receive updated virus/spyware definitions via USB thumb drive or online, will scan the PC's hard drive and is even effective at removing malware which use rootkits to avoid detection.  DaRT 6.0 was previously available in beta, and Brandon had a chance to check it out late last year on the Windows Experience Blog.

DEM is a tool which allows the IT department to monitor all of the little application and operating system crashes that occur in an IT environment.  You can think of it as a "Watson for companies."  Whenever end users have a pop up error that normally says "Click to send to Microsoft," the Administrator can now use DEM to automatically redirect all of those errors to the DEM server.  By tracking all of these errors, companies can create a more stable PC environment for their end users.  They can also use it to track internally developed applications and use the feedback to improve their own development process.  DEM 3.0 SP1 brings improved performance and scalability to the product, as well as an improved look-and-feel of the reports which can be generated for key metrics such as Top Application Crashes and Top Error Groups.  Additionally, the new version of DEM can be upgraded to System Center Operations Manager 2007 through an in-place upgrade.  This will allow IT Departments a deeper level of monitoring for your machines and the added ability to monitor your servers.

The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack continues to be an excellent way for IT Pros to effectively manage their PCs in the IT environment.

11 Comments
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  • Ceinach
    45 Posts

    Another vote for a separate non-enterprise packaging of the DART toolsets.

    Really, at this point, this would be in Microsoft's best interest as I'm finding more and more people are relying on the Ubuntu boot disks for HD recovery, for example.

    By Microsoft committing itself to the user-experience fully and providing this tool, Windows user experience satisfaction will do nothing but go up. Likewise, we, as the support people will also feel good that we have the toolsets we need and will in turn relay that to our customers.

    As it is, Bart and all the freeware Linux-type tools are fairly good. Microsoft's toolset? Well, it's not to be seen...unless you are upper-eschelon. This will jsut drive everyone to use non-MS toolsets like BART, which is a marketing mistake on Microsoft's part IMHO.

  • someone
    156 Posts

    The Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset can be terribly useful to ANY Windows user. Why is MS limiting it to enterprise VL customers? DART part of the pack should be made a free download or at least a separate purchasable product.

  • cquirke
    15 Posts

    Hi Chris and Newscientist2000!

    Home users aren't just themselves - there are the techs that help them, and there are those who are adversely impacted when home systems get malware'd.  

    Think of home users as small corporate networks where everything is on one poorly-administered PC.  Losing the contents of that PC (as in "just" wipe and re-install Windows) is as harsh as wiping every single server and workstation in a corporation, and then finding there are no backups.

    Care for home systems should do better than that, and once you get off OEM and software support, it does.  As a tech working for these folks, priority #1 is data survival, then system survival (as the system is, not wiped and rebuilt) and then everything else, such as does it boot, are there bad parts to replace, etc. (i.e. the stuff vendors have to care about).

    I've user Bart as maintenance OS for some years now, see here for a slide show...

    http://cquirke.spaces.live.com/photos/cns!C7DAB1E724AB8C23!197/

    For Vista, WinPE would seem the obvious choice, but I can't attain the same functionality as I can in Bart.  Too many tools don't work, the integration process seems clumsy compared to Bart plugins, and there's no transparent registry re-direction akin to the RunScanner plugin for Bart.  

    Now that Ubuntu Live CDRs read and write NTFS, that may be more attractive as a maintenance OS - plus, once I learn how to set up Ubuntu maintenance OS CDRs, I've tought myself an extra production OS as a side-effect.  Win-win?

    As to how often one needs such a thing as Bart; my answer would be "most days", as a tech.  

    Every PC will ill-defined problems needs verification of RAM (MemTest86, built into Linux CDRs already), hard drive (HD-Tune from Bart CDR boot, won't run from WinPE 2.0) and then exclusion of malware (I use a "wizard" of multiple av and anti-spyware scanners from Bart).

    So it's not just when you "know" you're infected, and the objective is more than air-lifting a few data files.  

    It's every PC which *may* be infected, i.e. the start of all but the most trivial of jobs, and the objective is no-impact survival of the installation and data.

  • cquirke
    15 Posts

    Someone raised the point about disk space wastage when Vista backs up patches, etc.

    What is needed is the ability to redirect this OUT of the "engine room" to another HD volume.  As it is, for every 1 active code file, you could have 3 inactive previous versions etc. in the same busy volume.  I don't see anywhere else (e.g. memory management, CPU cycles) where you'd accept "75% gunk" as acceptably-optimized performance.

    Yes, HDs are big, but the OS partition may not be so.  There's a case to be made for keeping the OS C: small in the interests of performance, i.e. concentrating most disk activity within a narrow range of head movement, even if maximally fragged.  

    Such strategies are undermined by clueless software that dumps large wads of stuff in locations that cannot be preset by the user.

  • Thanks for the warm welcome everyone.

  • cas
    10 Posts

    Hello,

    do you know when the AGPM will get the 3.0 Update. At the moment it is not possible to install the tool on the Vista SP1 (!)or 2008 Server.I must keep the Vista without SP1 to manage the GPOs.

    Regards,

    cas

  • My definition of Home User above would be more acurately "Home Nerd".  The end user who really knows very little about file recovery and system rescue in the event that a worse case scenario occurs with a PC to make it unbootable.

    The type of user who has at least one more PC in the home and upon a crash will try to figure out a problem regardless of their lack of knowledge or expertise.  Someone who would rather recover at least their personal files themselves than send a PC to a shop.

    This end user would typically use the second PC to try to figure out how to fix the first, someone who would type a simple query such as "system recovery" into a search engine, and when the basic Windows tricks fail e.g. SafeMode and System Restore they turn to some other search hit like a Linux File Rescue Distro.

    The truth is that the DaRT package seems great for IT pros, but ultimately there are a lot of end users who will face a problem with their own home PC at some point.  Then all we really care about is getting our files back, the files that we never backup, the pics of the baby or our brothers wedding.  The basic DaRT tools could really help these average end users.

    For me having at least access to the following very basic DaRT features would be nice:

    File Restore

    Explorer

    Search

    Standalone System Sweeper

    The Solution Wizard could perhaps be upgraded to allow a more step by step access to more complicated features of DaRT that a regular end user may not be knowledgable enough to mess about with such as the Crash Analyser.

    It would be nice for perhaps a higher end OneCare package to offer a retail customer something extra on the software media, say a bootable system recovery environment for at least file recovery and maybe more.

    DaRT just seems like a real nice package of recovery tools, some of which could be useful to an average user whos PC fails unexpectedly.

    Certainly it would add to OneCares strengths, which would be a good thing.

  • newscientist2000, could you define "home user" for me? I'm curious because there are so many defintions of "home user". I'm really interested in your thoughts on this.

    The "home users" I know who use OneCare probably would never know what Bart PE is or understand how to take a crash dump file and use say a tool like DaRT to analyze it.

    Now I think what should happen is functionality from tools such as the ones listed above by Chris in the MDOP should be built into OneCare. What if OneCare was smart enough to find a .dmp file and analyze it for the user without any interaction from the user in having to find the .dmp files etc? What if OneCare could serve as a centralized "Watson" for the household? Interesting ideas.

    newscientist2000, thanks! You really got me thinking about some possibilities here! :-)

    - Brandon

  • Welcome Chris :-)

    I just wish that the home user could get their hands on these tools, perhaps as part of a OneCare advanced package or something like that.

    A Nice set of tools, but kinda sad that its only for IT Pros.  Only pushes home users to Bart PE and Knoppix.

  • someone
    156 Posts

    Is there any on Vista to SKIP backing up hotfixes? In XP, we had "/nobackup" or /n switch. Because of this in Vista, on all computers I've accessed, the C:\Windows\WinSxS folder takes a ridiculous amount of space. Please provide a way to skip backing up hotfixes.

  • dovella
    303 Posts

    Welcome and THX mr. Chris Flores