Microsoft opens the MED-V 2.0 beta program

At the beginning of this week Microsoft announced the public beta program for Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) 2.0.

The technology, acquired from the US startup Kidaro in March 2008 and originally called Workspaces, is what calls a platform wrapper: a remotely managed layer that envelops a virtual machine, defining things like the network access policy, the expiration time, the virtual hard drive encryption, etc.
With MED-V Microsoft has a very limited number of competitors, including VMware, Virtual Computer, RingCube and MokaFive.

The product was rebranded just a couple of months after the acquisition but Microsoft took an entire year to re-release it. MED-V 1.0, released as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) in April 2009, didn’t introduce any new feature compared to the Kidaro original solution and it is safe to say that the product got only a minor .1 update in more than two years. 
The lack of active development seen so far raised concerns about the Microsoft commitment on enterprise desktop virtualization.

Microsoft previewed MED-V 2.0 in August. At that time already highlighted how the product doesn’t seem to progress in the right way to address the user experience and scalability challenges that enterprise desktop virtualization presents.
While Microsoft introduced some additional application publishing and redirection capabilities in this first beta, the new features don’t impress much:

  • No dedicated 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.
  • Sign-on to the 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, sites, at the page-level or by specifying a port
  • Automated guest hibernation at shutdown
    The MED-V workspace is seamlessly suspended when the user logs off or shuts down the Windows 7 host.

On top of that, as Brian Madden correctly noted, Microsoft is positioning the solution simply as a managed version of Windows XP Mode to accelerate the Windows 7 deployment plans, which is way below the potential of the technology and far away from expected execution of the Kidaro’s vision.