Q. Does Microsoft Asset Inventory Service (AIS) (which is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)) use a client on the OS?

A. MDOP is made up of several components, including application virtualization, desktop virtualization, group policy management, desktop error monitoring, recovery toolsets and the AIS. AIS provides a web-based service that lets organizations view reports on software, hardware (with AIS 2.0), and license usage, all through the web and with no local server infrastructure requirements for the organization. This inventory information goes beyond just looking at the Add/Remove Programs information—it actually looks at the registry and file system to scan for information, which is then compared against a huge online catalog to find detailed information about installed software. It goes beyond what's possible by just looking at WMI installation information.

Although there's no server infrastructure required, there's a client that needs to be deployed to each machine that will be inventoried. The client performs the scans, packages the results in XML, and sends them using HTTPS so the Microsoft inventory web service has the data it needs to identify all the software on the machines.

The client is provided in Microsoft Installer format (MSI) and organizations can deploy using Group Policy or any other deployment solution. The client doesn't perform a large amount of processing. There's a monthly detailed scan and inventory upload and then a daily check-in with the Microsoft online service, which is minimal overhead.

Note that you must download the AIS client from your AIS website because it has a custom version for your organization with specific account identifiers to map the clients to your organization's AIS web service.

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