Microsoft Ships Application Virtualization 4.5 Release Candidate

Fresh after sharing the new short name for Microsoft Application Virtualization (SoftGrid became App-V), the MAV team has released the version 4.5 Release Candidate of the software.

So what’s new?

HTTP streaming. We now support streaming virtual applications from an IIS server (version 6 or 7). This will provide dramatic performance and scalability improvements for customers with large App-V deployments. In addition, the use of a more familiar protocol will make some deployments easier and more straight forward.

New Sequencer UI. We have greatly simplified the use of the Sequencer. There is now a single wizard for creating a new package and advanced settings have been put into an optional screen. In addition, enhancements have been made that will make editing packages even easier.

Dynamic Suite Composition (DSC) for MSI packages
. We introduced two great features with our Beta release – Dynamic Suite Composition and the ability to create MSI packages directly from the Sequencer. DSC allows the flexibility to control virtual application interaction. Creating MSI packages directly from the sequencer eliminates the need for a server environment when deploying virtual applications. But, it was a little difficult to use both DSC and MSI together with the Beta release. With the RC release, you can now dynamically suite two MSI packages together by following a few simple steps.

Improved integration with SCCM 2007 R2
. With the upcoming release of the Release Candidate version of SCCM 2007 R2, the ability to deploy virtual applications via SCCM will be seamless for SCCM administrators. Virtual applications can now be streamed via HTTP so that deployments can scale. Also, a new wizard will make the process of sending out package upgrades to users simple and straightforward.

Reporting
. Application usage information is now recorded locally on each client and then sent to a App-V Management Server during Publishing Refresh. This means that offline usage of applications or usage of applications when streaming from different sources is now all accounted for properly in the App-V database. We are also providing new guidance so that customers can run their own customized reports.

New Manageability tools
. We’ve added a OpsMgr 2007 Management Pack to improve the monitoring capabilities of your App-V servers. We’ve added a ADM template to make it simpler to manage common client configurations via group policy. Finally, we’ve created a VSS Writer so that backups of the App-V server can leverage the latest technology.

Client cache improvements. The maximum size of the client cache has been increased to 1 TB. We also introduced a feature that allows for least recently used applications to be removed from cache should it become full and a user is trying to add a new application. Also, we’re created some perfmon counters to make it easier to monitor the state of the cache.

New MSI package capability. As mentioned above, the ability to create MSI packages directly from the Sequencer was introduced in our Beta release. However, the application was required to be used in an “offline” way, such that no connectivity to servers was needed. Customers told us they like the ability to do just the publishing of application shortcuts, icons and file type associations via the MSI, but they wanted the ability to still stream applications to their clients and to deliver package updates this way, too. With the RC release, this is now possible via a new command line parameter that does just this publishing activity.

Accessibility
. The product is now Section 508 compliant, bringing App-V in line with other Microsoft products.

Documentation. As part of the RC, we have updated the online help that is included with the product. In addition, we are releasing a Planning and Deployment Guide and a FAQ for Upgrading to Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5.

You can download App-V 4.5 from Microsoft Connect. You need a Windows Live ID.

About the author

I'm a blogger, entrepreneur, conference organizer, social media consultant, startup advisor and allround web addict, based in Belgium, Europe. I'm a writer at TechCrunch and managing editor of Virtualization.com.

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