Electronic Data Systems Wednesday is unveiling a service to manage the deployment of Microsoft desktop applications and system software in companies and government agencies.Electronic Data Systems\u00a0Wednesday is unveiling a service to manage the deployment of Microsoft desktop applications and system software in companies and government agencies.Features of the offering, called myCOE - my Consistent Office Environment - include giving end users flexibility in choosing applications for their desktop and a pricing model under which companies pay only for the services used, according to EDS."We're enabling self-selection and variability at the user level, and working with clients to let them move from what is otherwise a fixed-cost environment," said Carol Wyatt, global offering executive for EDS' Distributed Systems Service line.The EDS services thus contrasts with the traditional approach of giving machines with the same configuration and application set-up to users who do different jobs. This rigid approach and lack of individual desktop customization inevitably leaves some users with less functionality and others with more functionality than they need.The new EDS managed service, based on desktop management software from Microsoft, has been designed for machines running the Windows XP operating system and the Microsoft Office XP and upcoming Office 2003 suites, Wyatt said. However, the service can be expanded to support other Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications and software, she said.MyCOE delivers applications and desktop services from a Web portal. From there, end users can pick and choose applications from a list compiled and approved by the IT department. That way, end users can configure their machines - desktop PCs, laptops, handheld computers - with the software they need. Users can drop and add applications as their needs change.The companies in turn will pay for the services and applications their employees are actually using. This approach taps into an increasingly popular trend in IT of paying for software, hardware and services based on usage, just like one pays for utilities like electricity and water. Big names such as IBM and HP have full-fledged strategies for offering their clients these "pay as you go" options.The Microsoft software around which EDS built its myCOE service is the Solution Accelerator for\u00a0Business Desktop Deployment (BDD), which Microsoft is also announcing Wednesday. Free and available for download now from Microsoft's Web site, Solution Accelerator BDD is a desktop management tool for IT departments that Microsoft claims can reduce Windows XP, Office XP and Office 2003 deployment tasks by 75% by automating manual tasks. Solution Accelerator BDD comes with scripts and templates as well as with documentation detailing best practices and guidance for deploying desktop applications and upgrades throughout the organization."Customers are asking us for clarity in deploying business desktops, so here we're providing an end-to-end solution which delivers guidance, scripts and tools that create a comprehensive approach to the deployment of business desktops," said Alain Meeus, a Microsoft product manager for the Windows Client division.Microsoft has had desktop management tools, but in a scattered fashion. This software pulls it all together under one roof, he said. Solution Accelerator BDD can be used in conjunction with other systems management tools from Microsoft and other vendors.Microsoft and EDS worked together on developing myCOE using an implementation of the Solution Accelerator BDD called "zero touch," which Microsoft designed specifically for partners and clients that want to create a managed service around its Solution Accelerator BDD software.