Application Virtualization, Red

App-V 5.0 Beta: A Change is Brewing

What’s going on?

It’s all over the web; virtualization and packaging bloggers are all offering their thoughts on the new changes to App-V in Microsoft’s latest beta 5.0.  For those not familiar with App-V or Microsoft Application Virtualization, there are definitely more resources on the web to learn about it than there were back when Microsoft first acquired the software from Softricity when it was known as Softgrid. For more basic information on what App-V does straight from the horse’s mouth go here.

Let the Changes Begin:

  • The sequencer no longer uses the CSIDL to parse files and path information but instead a new VRG with is a specific syntax to App-V.
  • The file format has changed from .pkg, .sft to .appv. This is also an App-V specific format that will move App-V from block streaming to a compressed folder format. The new format effectively removes the 4GB package limitation of the current version of App-V. (Can someone say virtual Adobe Suite, AutoCAD and many more?)
  • OSD files are gone too. Since the new file format and virtual package system allows for the application shortcuts to point directly to the exe file instead of the App-V client the XML configurations that the OSD held are no longer needed.
  • Because of the way the virtual application configurations are controlled using the new format both per user and per machine configurations are supported for an application at the same time.
  • The MMC console that was previously used to manage published apps is now replaced by a web-based management tool that is based on Silverlight.
  • Because of App-V now using the industry standard web servers to publish applications they will no longer need to restart downloading if interrupted. Instead they will continue once reconnected and download only the remaining files that need downloaded

If you want to play around with all the new App-V software without having to download and install it all yourself you can visit Microsoft’s Virtual Lab. It’s not without its bugs and sometimes the screen resolution on the remote machine can be annoying.

Here is idea of how the new App-V system communicates:

Screen Shots of the new parts of the App-V software bellow:

Sequencer screen shots

Client Screen Shots:

App-V Server:

My 2 Cents

I’ve worked with App-V since the days of Softgrid and have always been interested how such technology will be able to make a serious impact not only on a corporate scale but in the private sector as well. With the new changes Microsoft is making to the virtualization technology I think we are heading into a new paradigm when it comes to application packaging. There are still limitations that will make traditional MSI packaging necessary, however the architecture level integration of App-V into the Windows OS will make virtualization very attractive. The security and management options presented by App-V are enough to make corporate IT managers excited. Although it is still in beta App-V 5.0 presents us with the leap forward Microsoft and virtualization technology really needed to not only be taken seriously but give our old concepts of application packaging and management a run for its money.