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Group Policy management gets a boost with MDOP 2009 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 aren’t the only new releases Microsoft has on tap this month. The new Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2009 R2 (usually pronounced emm-DOP) will be out by late October, with enhancements for Group Policy and application virtualization.

The new pack will include Windows 7 support for nearly all of its components, including Advanced Group Policy Management 4.0 (AGPM), which will also support Windows Server 2008 R2.

In a post on the Group Policy Team Blog, Microsoft’s Michael Kleef touched on a subject that we will be delving further into on the blog this month – mainly, the pros and cons of running Windows 7 without Windows Server 2008 R2 (or vice versa). In the case of AGPM 4.0, Kleef cautioned that folks are better off running Windows 2008 R2 on the backend if they plan to edit policies for Windows 7. “While we do support Vista and Windows Server 2008 with AGPM 4.0, don’t mix the platforms,” he said.

The big additions to AGPM include new filtering and search capabilities for tracking Group Policy changes, as well as the ability to copy GPOs from one forest to another, even if the two domains are not physically connected. According to Kleef, this move is in response to customer feedback about a simpler way to move GPOs among change controlled environments.

Other MDOP 2009 R2 additions involve application virtualization. While desktop and app virtualization have been slow to develop for many organizations (partly due to the alleged high cost of implementation), Microsoft is promoting the idea that Windows 7 deployments are an ideal time to look at App-V in particular. In fact, Microsoft has made available the results of a cost reduction study to prove it to you.

Enhancements have also been made to MDOP components such as Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset, Desktop Error Monitoring and the Asset Inventory Service. We don’t have an official release date yet for MDOP 2009 R2, but I would expect it to be available soon after (if not the same day as) the big OS launch on October 22.

Software Assurance subscribers will be able to license MDOP through the platform Enterprise Agreement.

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