Microsoft slates flurry of Configuration Management updates

System Center Configuration Manager SP1to be released in May

Microsoft Wednesday said Service Pack 1 for System Center Configuration Manager will be released in May and the last beta of the R2 version would come in July with a final release to follow by October.

The company also said the next version of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack would be updated with new desktop virtualization capabilities sometime between July and September 1, 2008.

The company also previewed a service called Knowledge Services that is a knowledge database of server configurations using data from end users. The service is designed to show users the most efficient and effective configurations for deployments such as Exchange.

The announcements were made at Microsoft's annual Management Summit.

The System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 Service Pack 1 is slated for availability on May 27. It will include integration with Intel's vPro Processor technology so users can control 15 hardware features such as remotely turning on/off desktops. To perform such tasks previously IT administrators had to make a physical visit to a user's desktop.

In addition, Microsoft is connecting asset management capabilities in its Microsoft Deployment Optimization Pack (MDOP) to SCCM 2007 via a service in the cloud that would provide details on such information as latest updates and patches.

The R2 release of SCCM 2007, slated for a release candidate or final beta, in July, will include deeper integration with Microsoft Application Virtualization that will provide a consistent way to roll out desktop images either virtualized or via MSI.

The release also moves all of SCCM's reporting services to SQL Server Reporting Services and includes some integration with Forefront security services to report on desktop compliance with patches and signature levels on antivirus software.

The final release of SCCM 2007 R2 will be before Oct. 1, according to Microsoft.

In addition to management updates, Microsoft will release this summer the next version of MDOP.

"With MDOP, we will release updates every six months," said Brad Anderson, general manager of the management and services division at Microsoft.

Microsoft also said it would extend MDOP to 10 languages beyond its current English-only release. The languages are: Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and Spanish

Other MDOP updates include the fall release of Asset Inventory Service 1.5, which will add license reconciliation along with scalability improvements, and Advanced Group Policy Management 3.0 that adds support for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008, new security features and enhanced reporting.

Both upgrades are slated to ship before October 1, 2008.

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