New release of Microsoft's App-V for Windows 7 available

Microsoft posted for download on February 27 of an update to its App-V virtualization product that is designed to work with the Windows 7 Beta.

App-V is based on the SoftGrid technology Microsoft acquired in early 2006 when it bought Softricity. App-V lets users run applications without actually installing them on a local machine. This allows companies who want to make available a single image of Office or a custom line-of-business application to multiple users by pushing it out to them without having to touch each desktop. It also enables users run applications virutally that might conflict if run simultaneously on their Windows machines.

App-V 4.5, the current release of Microsoft’s application virtualization technology that is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), runs on Windows Vista and XP, but not Windows 7. The new CU1 (Cumulative Update 1) build, which Microsoft is making available on its Connect download site for existing App-V customers, runs on Windows 7, too. The CU1 build also includes a variety of fixes and udpates to App-V 4.5 that will work for Vista and XP users.

The final version of 4.5 CU1 the full MDOP package for Windows 7 will be available within 90 days of the time Windows 7 ships. Microsoft is still not saying when that fateful date will be, but Windows 7 is widely expected to be released to manufacturing in the third quarter of 2009.

In today’s blog post to the MDOP blog, Micosoft officials explained why — despite the fact that Microsoft is promising the vast majority of Vista-compatible apps will also work on Windows 7 — the 4.5 CU1 update is needed:

“As you know, we have a high bar for application compatibility between Windows Vista and Windows 7, so you might be wondering why we need an update of App-V specific to Windows 7. Application virtualization is in a small class of applications that have very deep interactions specific to a Windows release – in App-V’s case it is redirecting the registry, file-system and component calls. So as we update Windows, we will continue to require new versions of App-V.”

Speaking of the next version of App-V, Microsoft reiterated that the 4.6 release — which is still due in the first half of 2010 — will add suport for 64-bit applications. Microsoft is planning to sign up Technology Adoption Program (TAP) testers for the 4.6 build later this calendar quarter.

App-V is one of a handful of business-focused utilities that Microsoft includes in MDOP. MDOP is available for purchase only by customers who sign up for Microsoft’s Software Assurance annuity-licensing program.

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