Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 Service Pack 1

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Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.6 Service Pack 1 provides the latest updates to App-V 4.6

Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 Service Pack 1 (App-V 4.6 SP1) updates App-V 4.6 with the latest security and stability enhancements to help keep computers running App-V up-to-date, reliable, and more secure. The goal of this service pack is to increase the overall quality of the existing product features while maintaining a high level of compatibility with previous releases. ‘
Feature Summary:

  • Streamlined application sequencing – Improvements to the App-V 4.6 SP1 Sequencer make packaging applications for App-V easier and faster.
  • Support for using a read-only cache on RDS – App-V 4.6 SP1 now supports using a shared, read-only cache in both VDI and RDS environments.
  • Support for sequencing Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 – App-V 4.6 SP1 now supports sequencing the Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0.
  • Customer Feedback and Hotfix Rollup – App-V 4.6 SP1 also includes a rollup up of fixes to address issues found since the Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 release.

Download details Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 Service Pack 1

Citrix Connector for System Center Configuration Manager 2007

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Source; http://blogs.technet.com/b/systemcenter/archive/2010/07/01/citrix-connector-for-system-center-configuration-manager-2007.aspx

Microsoft have recently jointly released the Citrix connector for ConfigMgr 2007.  Through this release, the ConfigMgr SDK has been used to extend and support the management of application services through XenApp.  Very cool indeed.

Here is the announcement. Links are below.

Citrix® XenApp™ 6 introduces integration with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 giving organizations a single, integrated view and management of all applications across the enterprise including on-demand apps by XenApp. The Citrix XenApp Connector leverages the Configuration Manager console to deploy and publish applications and updates to XenApp servers with zero disruption to users and extends the reach of Configuration Manager applications to a broader set of users, devices and access scenarios

Some resources for you:

  • Jointly authored whitepaper is available here
  • A Video Demo can be viewed here

Announcing App-V 4.6 RC and integration with Office 2010 Beta!

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Source: http://blogs.technet.com/softgrid/archive/2009/11/19/announcing-app-v-4-6-rc-and-integration-with-office-2010-beta.aspx

First of all, we are excited to announce the availability of App-V 4.6 RC! In August we announced the App-V 4.6 Beta. Since then we have taken in lots of customer feedback and continue to refine the App-V 4.6 release so that we can deliver a great product!  We invite you to check out the RC release by registering and downloading the App-V 4.6 RC release via Microsoft Connect, where you can also submit feedback directly to the team.

We’re not done though, in addition we’d like to share some great news and also announce our integration with Office 2010 Beta:

Microsoft Office 2010 Beta, Ready to be Sequenced With the Microsoft Office 2010 Beta Deployment Kit for App-V

As you know the Office team just completed a major milestone Microsoft Office 2010 Beta, congrats to the team!  Throughout the process of building Office 2010 the App-V and Office teams have been working very closely to make sequencing Office 2010 Beta possible with App-V 4.6 RC!  We have taken the feedback and requests from post-Office 2007 and App-V 4.5 releases, and have been hard at work implementing a solid integration experience for Office when App-V 4.6 releases in H1 2010.

So what’s Different when using Microsoft Office 2010 Beta and App-V 4.6 RC together?

Office 2010 has introduced a new piracy protection initiative, the Software Protection Platform (SPP) service.  This service uses a machine’s hardware characteristics and product key to activate the installation, which is performed during the first Office application launch.

Since the Office 2010 product activation is linked to the hardware on which Office is originally installed, customers who wish to deploy Office 2010 using App-V must physically install the SPP service on the sequencer machine before beginning the sequencing process – and on any client machines that will stream and run Office 2010.

Our engineering teams have collaborated to address the top customer issues that people were running into when virtualizing past versions of Office.   As a result, Office 2010 has a much more integrated user experience.  The Office 2010 integration delivers key productivity enhancements and a seamless user experience by enabling the following::

· Microsoft SharePoint Integration – You can open, edit, and save Microsoft Office documents using Microsoft SharePoint.

· Microsoft Outlook Fast Search – You can use Microsoft Windows Desktop Search to find specific messages in your inbox.

· MAPI Proxy – You can connect to your inbox using Microsoft Outlook Send To functionality.

· Microsoft Office Document Indexing – You can index your documents so that you can use Microsoft Windows Search to locate files.

· Virtual Mail Control Panel icon – You can use the Email icon in Control Panel to perform advance mail configuration.

· URL protocol handler – You can configure links in the browser and specify the appropriate associated Microsoft Office application.

· Send to Microsoft OneNote Printer driver – You can print documents to Microsoft OneNote.

To help customers facilitate this process, we have created the Microsoft Office 2010 Deployment Kit for App-V (Beta). The Deployment Kit contains both the required SPP licensing component and Office 2010 integration features.

And what’s even more exciting, you can get your hands on it now.

How Do I Sequence Microsoft Office 2010 Beta for App-V 4.6 RC?

1. Download Office 2010 Beta here

2. Download the Microsoft Office 2010 Deployment Kit for App-V (Beta)

3. Download App-V 4.6 RC on Microsoft Connect

4. Read the App-V recipe for sequencing Office 2010 Beta on Microsoft Connect.

For detailed information on whether your environment meets the requirements of Office 2010 and App-V 4.6 RC, please refer to the App-V recipe.

Please note: We are providing a recipe to support the sequencing and testing of these pre-release products on Microsoft Connect.  Please provide feedback via Microsoft Connect, by choosing FEEDBACK once logged into the App-V 4.6 Program.

We look forward to hearing about your App-V 4.6 RC and Office 2010 experience!

App-V 4.6 Beta Released!

We are excited to announce immediate availability of Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.6 Beta. At TechEd EMEA we announced our commitment to ship the next version of App-V in H1 2010.  In March of this year, as part of the MDOP 2009 launch, we indicated that the development of App-V 4.6 was underway.  Today, we have reached a major milestone and are a step closer to our goal.

This will be the first version of App-V to support both x64 and x86 Windows platforms.  The primary focus of this release is to enable App-V to take advantage of 64-bit Windows platforms including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.  We’ve also made some improvements in the App-V Sequencer such as simplifying the workflow for creating virtual applications and adding the ability to sequence true 64-bit applications, a first to market! For customers running Windows XP or Windows Vista, you can also use App-V 4.6 Beta and take advantage of the support for Office 2010, 64-bit platform support and additional features in the release.

Customers who want to get familiar App-V 4.6 Beta can register and download via Microsoft Connect.  As always, we want to hear from you.  We build great products by including feedback from our customers, so go ahead, test App-V 4.6 and give us feedback via Connect.

For customers who are currently using App-V 4.5 CU1 with their 32-bit Windows 7 systems, we will release an update to the 4.5 version of the product.  App-V 4.5 SP1 will be available within 90 days of Windows 7 general availability and provide full support for running App-V 4.5 and Windows 7 (32-bit) in production.

For those of you out there that also want to test this out with Configuration Manager, the required platform level is Configuration Manager 2007 R2 SP2.  Service Pack 2 for ConfigMgr is currently in open Beta, and can be downloaded.

Download here: http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/configurationmanager/en/us/default.aspx

How to integrate App-V with SCCM without losing the features you care about

source: http://www.buit.org/2009/02/13/how-to-integrate-app-v-with-sccm-without-losing-the-features-you-care-about/

One of the most anticipated features of SCCM 2007 R2 is “App-V Integration”. We have recently tested the end-to-end scenario for this integration and we can say with confidence: it BLOWS :-( . In a nutshell, by integrating App-V with SCCM you lose App-V’s best features and reduce the solution to something that’s even worse than SCCM by itself!

So what happens when you enable the App-V/SCCM integration feature in the SCCM Management Console?

  • Control of the App-V client is seized by the SCCM client. If you had App-V running on its own before you enabled the integration, you’ll notice that all App-V apps that are published through App-V’s Publishing Server are now rendered invalid. On launch you’ll get a “Unable to initialize package information (0×00000000)” error.
  • You must now publish your App-V apps through SCCM as “Virtual Application Packages”. This works by importing the .XML file of the App-V package. SCCM will distribute the packages to its Distribution Points and you can enable those Distribution Points for HTTP(S) streaming.
  • To get the App-V apps to your clients, you’ll have to create SCCM advertisements. Basically SCCM advertisements replace the App-V Publishing Server. The behavior of getting App-V apps to your desktop now becomes eerily similar to SCCM’s way of installing applications. No more getting your shortcuts immediately upon logon (like you get with App-V); you will have to go get a cup of coffee and hope that SCCM is willing to give you your apps today.
  • If you created non-mandatory assignments, then you’ll have to go to Add/Remove Programs yourself and click “Run” for all the apps that you want. However clicking “Run” doesn’t actually run your app, it only registers the App-V app with the local App-V client. Don’t expect to see any progress bar or visual feedback that the registration actually happened; just keep scouring around in your Start Menu in hope of finding the shortcuts for your new app.
  • If you created mandatory assignments, you’ll get one or more notifications from SCCM (after some time ofcourse) that SCCM has App-V apps for you that it would like to register with the local App-V client. It will do that on *every* desktop you logon to. Prepare to spend quite a bit of quality time with the SCCM Client…
  • If you’re using either Windows Terminal Services or Fast User Switching in Vista, you’re SOL because the SCCM Client is allergic to terminal sessions. You’ll get a message telling you that “No programs are available to run from a Terminal Services session”. How nice. If you happen to be running the console session, you won’t notice this limitation because at the console session, everything works just fine. So make sure you also test your solution via a terminal session so you won’t get caught by surprise.

As a result of the findings described above, we were pretty disappointed with the solution and decided to reverse our decision to integrate App-V with SCCM. However we did like the idea of using SCCM Distribution Points to stream App-V apps from. So we had a go at doing a manual integration of App-V with SCCM so that we could use just the SCCM parts we wanted. The idea was inspired by Tim Mangan’s article which included this diagram:

In his article he never got around to actually testing if it was possible to stream an application that was published by App-V’s Publishing Server from an SCCM Distribution Point. He only verified that is was possible to install the App-V app through an MSI with SCCM. So we ventured to get HTTP streaming working against SCCM Distribution Points, with the shortcuts still being provided by an App-V Publishing Server. In a nutshell: it works! You do have to setup a few mechanisms to get load balancing working though.

Here is how it works:

  • First and foremost: disable the App-V integration with SCCM. To do this, go to the SCCM Console -> Site Database -> Site Management -> <Site> -> Site Settings -> Client Agents -> Advertised Programs Client Agent -> Properties and make sure “Allow virtual application package advertisement” is NOT selected.
  • Enable your SCCM Distribution Points for BITS, HTTP and HTTPS content transfer. To do this, go to the SCCM Console -> Site Database -> Site Management -> <Site> -> Site Settings -> Site Systems -> <your DP> -> ConfigMgr distribution point -> Properties and select “Allow clients to transfer content from this distribution point using BITS, HTTP and HTTPS”.
  • We found that (at least in the RTM version of SCCM 2007 R2) you don’t have to enable “virtual application streaming” on the “Virtual Applications” tab of the distribution point to be able to stream from a SCCM DP when using our manual integration. The added benefit of this is that you can now also use Secondary Site DP’s as streaming servers!
  • Set up an App-V Management Server on any server you like. You can even set it up on a SCCM server, it doesn’t matter. Use the default installation settings for the entire installation. After installation, set the Default Content Path to the following: http://%SFT_SOFTGRIDSERVER%
  • Add an App-V package to SCCM for distribution and streaming:
    • Go to the SCCM Console -> Site Database -> Computer Management -> Software Distribution -> Packages -> New -> Package . Enter the information about your package and click Next. Select “This package contains source files” and set the Source Directory to the location of your App-V package and click Finish. Note that you import the App-V package as a normal SCCM package and NOT as a Virtual Application Package. Importing it as a Virtual Application Package will cause the .SFT file in the App-V package to be renamed and cause the .SFT file to be added to not 1 but 2 locations on each SCCM Distribution Point, doubling storage requirements.
    • When the package is added to SCCM, find the Package ID and use it to update the streaming location in the App-V OSD files. For each OSD file in your App-V package, update the HREF statement to HTTP://%SFT_SOFTGRIDSERVER%/SMS_DP$/SMSPKG/<your SCCM Package ID >/<name of your SFT file >
      (If you are using a File Share Distribution Point, the IIS vdir may be different than SMS_DP$. Verify the vdir name in IIS Manager and ensure that all DP’s are either standard DP’s or File Share DP’s.)
    • Now add some SCCM Distribution Points to your package so that SCCM can distribute the App-V content
  • Import the same App-V package into the App-V Management Server so that you can distribute the shortcuts and set permissions:
    • On the App-V Management Server, go to the App-V Management Console, go to Applications
      -> Import Application and go to the same App-V package folder. Select the .SPRJ file and click Open. Perform your regular App-V import steps and finish the import.
    • The imported applications in the App-V Management Console should now show the correct http:// paths to both the OSD file(s) and the SFT file(s).
  • That’s it! Now just configure your App-V Clients on the desktops to use your newly setup App-V Management Server by configuring a Publishing Server and use Group Policy to set the %SFT_SOFTGRIDSERVER% to the name of a SCCM Distribution Point nearby. We set this variable to DNS name that uses DNS Round Robin to distribute the load to multiple DP’s.

Performance analysis of App-V, SVS, ThinApp and XenApp

XPnet created a whitepaper which analyze and describes the performance characteristics of Altiris SVS Pro, Citrix XenApp, Microsoft App-V and VMware ThinApp. Although the tested application set is limited it still gives a nice view of the performance characteristics of different Application Virtualization solutions.

VMWare commission the study, but did not aid or influence the results. VMWare chose Xpnet to study AppVirt performance because they developed Clarity Suite which is a fairly well known Office benchmarking application and because it’s freely available anyone can reproduce their results. This is the first real whitepaper which investigates the performance impact of various Application Virtualization solutions. My personal feeling is that there are more real independent tests to come..

The complete test report can be downloaded: http://www.xpnet.com/appvirt2008.pdf