Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 Service Pack 1

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

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.

App-V: Building your Test Lab

Back on August 18th, Justin Zarb over on the Virtual World blog began a series of articles on building an App-V test lab.  Well, some time went by after Part 1 was posted but apparently he got a spurt of energy and hammered out Parts 2 through 7 while I was out last Friday.  Better lay off the Red Bull buddy!  Anyway, now that they’re done, not only is this a great way to model your App-V test lab but if you’re looking for a better understanding of how the various pieces fit together then reading through his build is a great way to do it.  The various posts that make up his 7 part build is below:


Part 1: The initial Setup – Building your App-V RC test lab (using 4.5.1305)

Part 2 : Installing IIS 7 for App-V RC

Part 3 : Configuring Windows Server 2008 with Certificates for RC App-V

Part 4 : Installing the First Management Server on RC App-V

Part 5 : Configuring the Windows Server 2008 Firewall for RC App-V

Part 6 : Installing and Configuring the RC ADM Template

Part 7 : Installing the RC App-V on the client



End-to-end Virtualization Kick Off Set for today!

The Microsoft virtualization products that includes Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V , System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008 , and Microsoft Application Virtualization (formerly SoftGrid) starts with a press briefing today.

The September event is the U.S. kickoff event to a 6-month worldwide event series highlighting Microsoft virtualization products and partner solutions from the datacenter to desktops with a focus on partners and customer deployments.

VMM and Application Virtualization products will be released later in the calendar year. Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V is currently available.

Developers and ISVs are interested in these products from two points of view. First, it’s important that their products run under Application Virtualization and Hyper-V so customers can deploy applications effectively. And second, to use them in development and testing efforts. You can build multiple versions of your code for both servers and clients, test deployment, and mange them within Virtual Machine Manager without having to dedicate individual computers for each end user or server.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008

Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 supports managing Virtual Server 2005 R2, Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, and VMware ESX from a single console. The latest version adds Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO), which dynamically tunes virtual infrastructure, simplified virtual host cluster support, and other improvements and enhancements.

You can download the beta version of VMM 2008 and learn more at Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager: Future Version .

Application Virtualization 4.5

Application Virtualization separates the application configuration layer from the OS. Your applications to run on clients – including desktops, servers and laptops – without being installed, and to be administered from a central location. The public beta includes new capabilities designed to help IT Pros support:

  • Large-scale virtualization implementations across more sites and enable multiple delivery options.
  • Globalization that lets users work in localized environments with localized applications.
  • Dynamic Suite Composition allows administrator-controlled virtual application combinations
  • Compliance with Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing and Secure by Default initiatives.

For more information and a link to download the beta, see Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 Beta – What’s New .

Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V

Server virtualization enables multiple operating systems to run on a single physical machine as virtual machines (VMs). With server virtualization, you can consolidate workloads of underutilized server machines onto a smaller number of fully utilized machines. Fewer physical machines can lead to reduced costs through lower hardware, energy, and management overhead, plus the creation of a more dynamic IT infrastructure.

Hyper-V is shipping for Windows Server 2008. You can find it at Update for Windows Server 2008 x64 Edition (KB950050) .

ISVs can now receive a special Hyper-V designation to support the Certified On or Works-With certifications for Windows Server 2008 applications. For more information, see Hyper-V Designation Added to Windows Server 2008 Certifications .

Marrying SCCM R2 and SoftGrid 4.5

The first news to me is the rebranding of SoftGrid. I kinda thought it was a cool name but I guess when you acquire a product you’ll always, if not necessary, to rename it. So what’s the brand spanking new name?… Microsoft Application Virtualization!!. Funky? Well.. I’ll let you thrive on your own opinions :)

The good news however is that the upcoming version 4.5 will be tightly integrated with System Center Configuration Manager 2007.

One of the primary goals of SCCM R2 is to be able to manage virtualized applications just like a physical application for example, asset inventory or deploying.
If you’ve used or tried SoftGrid 4.0 or 4.1, you’ll know that in the application virtualization world, it doesn’t really exist therefore SCCM or SMS could not perform inventory on those application. So 4.5 addresses this now.
The 4 core integration is:

  • Packaging and distribution of virtual applications. – (Being able to create a virtual application ‘package’ and distribute it to the DP)
  • Deployment of the virtual application – (Advertise the package to clients)
  • Launching and running in a connected or disconnected environment
  • Inventory and Reporting (ability to perform inventory and report on packages application and usage)

If you’re trying out the BETA, the typical deployment to get this functionality is

1. Deploy the Softgrid Clients to the clients (this can be done manually or via SCCM’s Application Distribution

2. Sequence applications to output the native SFT package format {Sequencing is a method used my SoftGrid to re-package an application into a readable package}
3. Enable Virtual Application Distribution Point (This is done through the SCCM Site Roles)
4. Configure the Advertised Program Client to allow for Virtualized Application (This is done through the Client Agents configuration node)
5. Import Virtual Application Package (yes. A new available option in SCCM) in SCCM 2007 R2

If you notice from the screenshot above, there is a new orangy package icon. This denotes a Virtual App.

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