The Microsoft Application Virtualization team is very excited to announce that our version 4.5 Release Candidate is now available! We’ve been working incredibly hard since the Beta release to bring you the best version of the product to date and we think we’ve achieved that goal! Since the Beta release, we have added several new features, fixed bugs and made sure the product was ready to scale for enterprise deployments. Our TAP customers (selected customers who work closely with us to deploy the product into production prior to its final release) will be expanding their deployments to thousands of production users with this release in order to help us validate the product’s full feature set, as well as performance and scalability.
In case you are not familiar with our focus areas for App-V 4.5, this is what we chose to focus on for the release as a whole:
· Dynamic Virtualization allows the flexibility to control virtual application interaction. Administrators wanting to consolidate virtual environments, and enable faster, easier administration, can use the product’s Dynamic Suite Composition, which sequences and manages middleware and plug-in applications separately from the main application.
· Extended Scalability through new deployment options, including deployments that leverage MSI-based package deployment, our new Streaming Server component, file streaming and HTTP streaming.
· Internationalization, including support for packaging non-English language applications (except for complex script languages), using the product on non-English language operating systems and the localization of the product into several additional languages.
· Support for Microsoft Security Standards following the Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle. This includes support for secure internet-facing scenarios and provides Secure by Default configuration out of the box.
A lot has happened since our Beta release and we’re excited to share it with you! Here’s some new features that we’d like to highlight:
· 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.
How to download the RC
Anyone may download the RC via the Microsoft Connect site (http://connect.microsoft.com). If you are not already signed in with your Windows Live ID once you are at the site’s homepage, click Sign In. If you have previously visited the Microsoft Connect site for the “Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 Public Beta”, look in the Activity in All Connections Since Your Last Login section under Your Dashboard and then click Microsoft Application Virtualization. If you have not previously visited the Microsoft Connect site for the “Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 Public Beta”, click Connection Directory and then click Apply Now next to the Application Virtualization 4.5 Public Beta listing. In the left navigation bar, click Downloads and then look for the link to the RC release download. Please make sure to read the Release Notes and Known Issues documents before installing the product.
Support for the RC
The RC release is intended for lab use only by non-TAP customers and it is not supported by the typical Microsoft Product Support Services team. However, there is a forum on the TechNet site where you can ask questions and a members of the App-V community can help. Here’s the link to the forum: http://forums.microsoft.com/TechNet/ShowForum.aspx?ForumID=1971&SiteID=17
To Learn More
Monitor this blog for future posts that will go into more depth on these product enhancements. In addition, to learn more about Microsoft Application Virtualization in general, please visit: http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/softgrid/default.mspx
All of us here on the product team are very happy to make this RC release available to you! Thanks for your interest and feedback! Please remember to post any issues you are seeing to the TechNet forum mentioned above!