Workspace Manager Express stores desktop and application settings in a central database, which in some cases allows you to replace roaming user profiles.
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Ben Norcutt

Ben Norcutt is a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) with 13 years experience inIT administration in educational establishments.
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Would you like to reduce your reliance on Windows roaming user profiles and the hassle that can be caused by corrupt profiles? How about having sub 20-second logon for all users? What about settings that work across all platforms and architectures, configured from one central place? Or applying just-in-time settings to applications as needed rather than all at the beginning of the user session?

Workspace Manager Express

Workspace Manager Express

Sounds great? All of this functionality is available for free with a tool that’s been around for a while: Workspace Manager Express from RES Software.

To install Workspace Manager Express, you need a SQL database that can be accessed by all your client machines. Workspace Manager Express supports the following database systems:

Microsoft SQL Server, 2000 or later, including express editions
Microsoft SQL Azure
Oracle, 9i and later
IBM DB2, 8.1 and later
MySQL, 5.0 and later

On each client there is a small software agent that caches a copy of all the settings. Thus, it only needs to check in with the DB server periodically for updates. This also means that settings can be applied even when a client is disconnected from the corporate network.

With Workspace Manager Express, user settings are applied across all OS platforms. For example, you can configure a folder that contains their Internet Explorer favorites that will be available on any platform on which you are running the RES agent.

The user preferences are stored in a SQL database and applied by the RES agent. This also works with all popular VDI and remote desktop solutions.

When you log on to a PC, lots of stuff is happening in the background. One of these is the processing of Group Policies. With Workspace Manager Express, not all settings are applied at the same time. That is, the agent applies them as needed; this, in turn, will give you faster logon times. For instance, if you only want an application to be able to print to a particular printer, that customization could be applied just before the application is run.

Workspace Manager Express

Managing printers with Workspace Manager Express

The functionality included in the express version of Workspace Manager may be all you’ll ever need. You can also review the functions that are available in the paid version; they are displayed but are unavailable unless you temporarily change the version you are using. Alternatively, you can hide the advanced features completely so that you can concentrate on just using the free functionality.

Workspace Manager

Feature of Workspace Manager's full version

With Workspace Manager Express, you probably cannot do away with Windows user profiles altogether. However, you can replicate any setting that would normally have been applied via Group Policy. As there are literally hundreds, it would be quite easy to get lost; however, the RES help menu is very valuable here and even links you through to video tutorials on their YouTube channel.

Resources

Introduction to Workspace Management

Getting Started with RES Workspace Manager 2011 - This is for the full product but the Express version will set up the same.

Check out Virtual Engine for another free nifty tool currently in Beta that allows you to migrate GPO to WSM.

More great stuff can be found over at RESguru.

Workspace Manager Express ^

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