MMS2012: Introducing Microsoft Application Virtualization 5.0

I regret I missed the name of the presenter for this session who did an excellent job speaking and demonstrating App-V. Someone please share via comments if you know.


App-V 5.0 Pillars:

1)   Integrated Platform (Virtual applications work like installed applications, use windows standards and do not require a dedicated drive letter).

2)   Flexible Virtualization (Multiple App-V applications can share the same environment, designed to support highly integrated applications and preserve existing investments in App-V.).

3)   Powerful Management (web based- management interface, optimized for VDI and rich PowerShell scripting automation capabilities)


Virtual files use NTFS now (not proprietary) which is good for virus scan scenarios. To support migration it is possible to run a 4.6 and a 5.0 client on the same machine at the same time.

What's New 

  • While App-V 4.6 required a dedicated Q drive, 5.0 does not
  • While App-V 4.6 had a 4gb package limit, 5.0 does not
  • While App-V 4.6 isolated applications from the OS entirely, you can now bend these rules with the Virtual Application Extension feature in 5.0
  • While App-V 4.6 allowed you to share middleware with Dynamic Suite composition. You can now share peer applications with Virtual Application Connection
  • While the App-V 4.6 shared cache was read only, in 5.0 it can now be easily updated
  • While App-V 4.6 offered limited command line scripting, 5.0 now supports PowerShell (in fact, the entire server experience may now be scripted)
  • While App-V 4.6 had an installed management console, 5.0 offers a web based management console based on Silverlight

Session and demo notes

UI looks nice, home page has a metro feel and the management pages are reminiscent of the InTune interface.

Publishing servers sync from the management server and pull data down to clients. Default is every 10 minutes. When testing you’ll want to decrease this time (documented).

Client may be configured using Group Policy

Packages are “.appv” files now (no more “.sft” file).  This is an open format you can open and look at and this moved allowed them to address the 4gb limit. There is a PowerShell based conversion tool to batch migrate many 4.6 packages to 5.0. The App-V file has all the meta data in it so it is the only file you you need. There are no OSD files either, but there are two optional configuration files. They are similar to OSD as they contain many of the same properties. This is where you would inject scripts. You can use these files to make changes to avoid the need to go back to the sequencer to update a package. They claim that most of the time it will just work and you can just use the “.appv” file, but if you need to tweak it there are two configuration files you can optionally mess with: a Deployment Configuration file (one file) changes get applied to anyone that uses the computer. The other file is a User Configuration file (may be one or several). This latter file is for making changes that affect the user on the machine. You can have one package and multiple configuration files if you wish, resulting in many different variations of an App-V package.

Microsoft is partnering with Adobe to get package accelerators available to help with the deployment of Adobe products via App-V.

The UI lets you adjust shortcuts and applications within the web based console.  You can apply changes only to specific user groups if you wish.

Client UI also has metro style card interface.

Virtual Application Connection feature lets virtual applications operate in the same bubble so they can communicate with each other while still being isolated from the operating systems. Updating included dependencies like Java required many package updates, now you can connect to the same one and have only one to update.  In 5.0 you don’t need to go into OSD files and figure out what was the master application, link them, etc. Now you can do this in the web UI-- create a “Connection Group”, give it a name and specify which applications belong to the group (in the background the configuration files are created/edited based on your choices and applied to the client).

When putting applications in the same environment they could conflict. There is a priority you specify to dictate which one wins out given any such conflicts.

Everything is possible via PowerShell so it is very easy to write your own tools or for third parties to create tools to offer the same functionality within their products.

Virtual Application Extension – and extension point is a virtual subsystem that can be registered with the native Windows OS. In short, you can let the OS and native applications see into virtual bubbles at a very granular level when necessary.

Supported subsystems: Shortcuts, file type associations (FTA), AppPath, URL protocols, Software Clients, Set program access and computer defaults and COM Local servers. Configuration files are reportedly well documented and contain lots of comments to help spell out where various manipulations may be made.


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