Microsoft has opened the MED-V 2.0 beta to the public. For those who aren't familiar, MED-V (which stands for "Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization") is like an enterprise version of Windows 7's "XP Mode" feature. The idea is that if you're using Windows 7, you might run into some application compatibility issues which could hold up your migration. One way to address this is to run the non-compatible apps in a Windows XP VM, and that's what MED-V is.
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MED-V is based on Microsoft Virtual PC technology with some additional management capabilities Microsoft got when they acquired Kidaro back in 2008. MED-V is not sold as a separate product per se, rather, it's included as part of Microsoft's MDOP license pack (which means a customer needs Software Assurance in order to get it).
MED-V 2.0 has several new features including: (This list is copied directly from Dave Trupkin's post announcing MED-V 2.0 on the MDOP blog)
- No dedicated MED-V infrastructure to deploy. MED-V 2.0 workspaces are deployed and managed using existing electronic software distribution (ESD) systems, including System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 R2 or higher.
- Streamlined sign-on to the MED-V workspace. Users can save their passwords for seamless sign-on to the MED-V workspace.
- Automatic application publishing. New applications deployed to MED-V workspaces, including App-V virtual applications, are available to the Windows 7 host automatically.
- My Documents and Desktop redirection. Legacy applications work just like locally installed applications when it comes to opening, saving and printing documents.
- USB device/SmartCard support. USB devices, including thumb drives and Smartcard readers can be shared between the host and applications running in the MED-V workspace.
- New Internet Explorer redirection options. IT administrators can redirect legacy web applications using wildcards (http://*.example.com), sites (http://www.example.com/hr), at the page-level (http://www.example.com/hr/benefits.asp) or by specifying a port (http://vpn.example.com:1234)
- Automated guest hibernation at shutdown. The MED-V workspace is seamlessly suspended when the user logs off or shuts down the Windows 7 host.
What's really interesting about MED-V is how Microsoft is positioning it. When Microsoft first bought Kidaro, I assumed that they might be interested in creating a client-based, VM-based, centrally-managed virtual desktop solution (like MokaFive, RingCube, Virtual Computer, or even VMware ACE). As we've started to see, though, this is clearly not the case.
And in fact we can see that with the focus of Dave's blog post (from which the above list was quoted). In addition to listing the new features, he also wrote "If you have legacy Windows XP or Internet Explorer 6/7 applications that are slowing down your Windows 7 deployment plans, don’t let them stand in your way." Another blog post by Microsoft's Karri Alexion-Tiernan explains how MED-V helps your migration to Windows 7.
So I guess this confirms what we'd assumed: MED-V will not be updated to manage & deliver Windows 7 desktops in new ways. Instead it's just a fancier version of XP Mode which is used simply to get more people to Windows 7. (Although you have to love the irony that the way Microsoft gets more people to Windows 7 is by providing tools to let them keep using Windows XP. :)