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Desktop Management

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Has the bucking desktop-management bronc been broken? We're cautiously optimistic. Sure, the task of keeping desktops up, running and patched is still tough. But apply the techniques and tools we discuss in this package and your systems may just drive themselves.

Our previous review of desktop-management suites pictured an IT admin smashing his head through a monitor (see "Dreaded Desktop Management," part I and part II). That image captured the attitude toward desktop management by many readers responding to our e-mail poll--and was a compelling argument for LCD monitors over CRT to boot. Part of the problem: Almost 40 percent of readers polled didn't have desktop-management software and weren't getting it anytime soon.

Now, nearly 71 percent of respondents have a desktop-management system or plan to by mid-2006. A whopping 81 percent of respondents to our most recent desktop-management reader poll say they aim to have desktop management within three years. And these aren't just large multinational corporations: Most respondents manage 500 or fewer desktops.

If you haven't yet implemented desktop management, now's a good time to jump on the chuck wagon. In our tests (see "Desktop-Management Roundup,"), we saw significant improvements: Role-based administration, patch management and vulnerability assessment have matured, while conventional functions like inventory, software distribution and remote control continue to show incremental improvements.

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