Microsoft on Monday released new versions of some key Windows 7 deployment tools, signaling to enterprise customers that now is the time to begin rolling out the software giant's latest desktop OS. The tools, Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 (App-V), App-V 4.6 for Remote Desktop Services (RDS), and the release candidate of Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization 1.0 (MED-V) Service Pack 1, are all part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), a suite of solutions that Microsoft provides via subscription to its volume license customers.
"Based on what we've heard from customers, partners and analysts, we wholeheartedly recommend that our business customers immediately start testing and piloting Windows 7 along with MDOP 2010 to enable a simple and fast migration," Microsoft Senior Director Gavriella Schuster wrote in a post on the Windows For Your Business blog.
Microsoft is also sharing the results of a study into the economic impact of Windows 7 on enterprises, noting that savings related to the new OS can be had in a variety of ways, including direct financial return on investment (ROI) and lower costs associated with application testing, PC deployment, Help desk call reduction, remote worker efficiency, and lower power consumption. The company has also released an ROI calculator so that enterprises can determine the impact of Windows 7 on their environments.
With regards to the new tools, App-V and MED-V offer different approaches to more streamlined OS and application deployment using virtualization technologies. With App-V, enterprises can centrally manage and "stream" application packages to desktops, reducing the amount of time and effort it takes to test, deploy and maintain applications on users' desktops. (App-V for RDS provides this functionality for use over the new version of Terminal Services.) App-V requires a server infrastructure based on Windows Server 2008 R2.
MED-V takes a more traditional approach by bundling virtualized copies of a legacy Windows OS, like Windows XP, with virtualized applications. (It is essentially a managed version of the XP Mode feature in Windows 7.) These virtual environments can then be deployed to Windows 7 desktops, providing users with a way to run older applications, such as IE 6, side-by-side with native Windows 7 applications.
App-V 4.6 and App-V 4.6 for RDS are both available now in final form and are shipping alongside the current version of MDOP, MDOP 2009 R2. MED-V 1.0 SP1 is available in a near-final release candidate version; the final version of this product will ship as part of MDOP 2010 in April 2010. MDOP is available to enterprise customers that are part of Microsoft's Software Assurance (SA) program