The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) might seem like an oddball collection of products at first glance. But let me assure you, it is the absolute best deal you can get if you support desktops. With the release of MDOP 2013 R2, this management suite continues to prove its worth and adapt to an ever changing environment.

As a quick refresher, MDOP is made up of six distinct tools that can be grouped into three categories: Virtualize, Manage, and Restore. In the virtualization segment, we have Application Virtualization (APP-V), User Experience Virtualization (UE-V), and Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V).

Within Manage, we have Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM) and Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM). Finally, the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT) sits under the Restore section. Let’s dive into some changes of MDOP 2013 R2.

The MDOP 2013 R2 summary

The MDOP 2013 R2 summary

APP-V 5 SP2 changes and improvements

APP-V 5 has been upgraded to SP2 with the MDOP 2013 R2 release. With this update, virtualizing Office 2013 is officially supported in a volume licensing environment. This move is especially welcomed for enterprise customers as Office 2007 and 2010 supported direct virtualization with volume licensing.

The APP-V team also extended support for Shell Extensions such as right click context menu shortcuts. When a user selects one of these options, the virtual app will execute and seamlessly function like a traditional application. As an example, an IT department could virtualize 7-Zip. A user could then use the right click context shortcuts to work directly with a file and use the virtualized application.

Is 7-Zip real or virtual

Is 7-Zip real or virtual? Your users will never know!

A few other smaller improvements were also included with APP-V 5 SP2. For an IT Administrator, the most helpful change is the streamlined application sequencer. Dealing with dependencies, such as Visual C++, was always a pain in the past. With the APP-V 5 SP2 sequencer, prerequisites can be automatically included in the APP-V package.

UE-V 2.0: A complete revamp

If you want a quick win within your office, setup UE-V. The entire process doesn’t take more than an hour of work and allow your users to sync application settings between many machines. UE-V 2.0 built upon this simplicity but added some requested features.

First, UE-V no longer requires Offline Files to sync settings. UE-V 2.0 includes a tightly coupled synchronization engine that makes relying on the Offline Files sync engine no longer necessary. As a note though, you can still use this method of app data syncing if needed.

UE-V 2.0 (finally) supports Windows Store Apps. By default, all built-in apps will roam all settings between machines. These settings are checked (and roamed) whenever the application is opened/closed and when the application is placed into a suspended state (known as loss of focus). App setting roaming can also be enabled for purchased Store apps and for line of business apps!

One can assume that the UE-V and APP-V team’s work very close as their features tend to mirror. For example, UE-V 2.0 includes a new Company Settings Center that copies features currently in APP-V. This collaboration is great for the Desktop Administrator though.

The Company Settings Center, one of the new features, allow users to view synced app settings and troubleshooting common issues. Users can also manually sync instead of waiting for automatic synchronization.

Company Settings Center in UE-V

Company Settings Center in UE-V

Other small changes

Excluding the two big additions above, the rest of the MDOP changes are focused on Windows 8.1 compatibility. For example, MBAM 2.0 SP1 and AGPM 4.0 SP2 fully support the latest client operating systems. Microsoft also released an updated version of DaRT that includes 8.1 support. It is creatively called: DaRT 8.1

In future releases of MDOP, I hope to see a renewed focus on existing tools such as AGPM along with additional PowerShell support. It would also be wonderful to see UE-V extended to allow specific date app setting roll back. Still, the MDOP suite makes for an excellent package.

  1. Soeren P 9 years ago

    hey Joseph,
    Will you make a piece on deployment and settings for UE-V ver 2? Or can you point me to a good guide somewhere?
    Thanks a lot in advance.

  2. Author

    Hi Soeren,

    I haven’t found a good guide yet. TechNet has a ton of information if you want to sort through it. 🙂

    I am currently deploying UE-V 2. When I am finished, I will post back some notes.

  3. Soeren P 9 years ago

    I will look very much forward to your deployment notes.

  4. Ram 9 years ago

    Hi – Will you come out with a deployment document for all the features with MDOP 2013 R2? I would like to get hands on experience with MDOP 2013 R2.

    Thanks – Ram

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