Review: App-V 5.1

By Rory Monaghan

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Microsoft just released MDOP 2015 on August 17th, which has brought us App-V 5.1. An announcement was made recently to declare that MDOP is now free to all Software Assurance customers going forward, so that may see a huge increase in the number of companies using App-V in the not so distant future. Couple that with the announcement of Project Centennial at Ignite and it seems like App-V is about to become much more important in the Microsoft grand scheme of things. For more about Project Centennial check out this great article: HERE

If you have not used App-V before, now is a great time to take that jump. Sure, App-V 5.0 had a very rocky start BUT things have improved dramatically. I know many companies are still hanging onto App-V 4.6 but it’s certainly my personal belief that App-V 5.0 has surpassed App-V 4.6 in terms of features…It really is a no brainer to start making that move and not only because App-V 4.6 has seen more sunsets than it’s about to see…but also, don’t forget about the end of Main Stream support, people!

In this post, I’ll go through what’s new at a glimpse, followed by a conclusion with my own thoughts and the changes I like the most. Also, what I believe could still be added to make App-V unbeatable.

AppVConsole

 

The Console got a significant Face lift. It now looks pretty similar to inTune. Perhaps a sign of things to come with other Microsoft products. Buttons\Menus have been changed around e.g. No more pointless Overview Homepage. When you click on an application, options appear as buttons now. Something I’m very happy with is the fact there’s a notification tray. Now, when you delete an app or change something there’s a notification that does NOT get hidden behind other notifications. That bugged me in the past.

ACG

 

The Connection Groups page also got a Facelift. It’s pretty straight forward to use. You can set apps to optional and set the load order.

OS

 

The Sequencer has received many changes! Probably the most apparent when you first go into it is the fact there’s now Windows 10 in the OS list. Yay!

REG-2

 

A change I love: You can now use Find and Replace! Also, in the registry you can import and export reg keys. WOOOOOOOOHOOOOO! I know this is something that’s a little trivial and is already available in other third party tools but it makes me happy so stop harshing my buzz!

VFS

 

In the VFS, there’s also an Import and Export option for Files. If you click on a File you can choose to import a replacement file. Or similarly, if you want, you could export a file. Useful for troubleshooting. Also, just useful if you want to check the state of a certain file.

Advanced

 

The Advanced Tab now shows an option to Enable Browser Help Objects selectively if they are picked up on during the Sequence. You can also now Export and Import the AppXManifest File. This is a good workaround for an issue I reported in the past, which you can find an example of HERE.

The issue is that basically, it doesn’t matter if you change something like File Type Associations in the Sequencer Interface…the change does not take effect. This was down to the fact, these FTA’s were created in the Manifest file and when you change and save from the Sequencer, the Manifest was not getting updated accordingly. Well, now you can simply export your manifest, change your Extensions, Shortcuts etc. and then Import it in before saving. Cool!

Not shown as an image here, but another massive change, in my opinion is that you can now run multiple scripts on a single trigger from the Configuration Files. For example, in the past if I wanted to install multiple packages locally when my virtual app was added to the client. I would have to package all apps as a single package or I’d have to script the install for all apps in a single vbs, powershell or bat and call the script from within my Configuration files. Now I don’t have to do that. I can call each install as I see fit.

For more information and even more additions included in App-V 5.1, (e.g the improved App-V 4.6 to App-V 5.0 Converter) Check out this article: HERE

Conclusion

I love the new changes to the Sequencer. This will help me become more efficient when creating and modifying App-V packages. I’m so happy that the great App-V Product team has listened to some of the App-V Online Communities recommendations. The User Voice concept is really positive in my eyes! If you have not heard of it, check it out HERE
With the quick pace of improvements in App-V since the inception of 5.0 Hotfix 4, I’m excited to see what else gets added to the product in the future! I wonder if the guys at Microsoft are looking at what VMware are doing with AppVolumes….I wonder if they are looking at the way Numecent Application Jukebox has an option to turn off Isolation…I really hope so! 🙂 I think the key to wide spread adoption for any Application Virtualization product is the ability to easily package and deliver ALL applications. Maybe that day will come soon for App-V!?!?!

If I could nitpick App-V 5.1 at all AND I CAN!, I wish we could open a package with the Edit option and get the Shortcuts & FTA’s tab.

It would be better if the changes made in the Sequencer UI would just reflect in the end package rather than making us export the Manifest and update it ourselves but I guess at least we have a workaround for now.

I really wish we could modify Services in our virtual services tab…it can be annoying when an app has an Update Service and you forget to disable it during the Sequence.

Whilst I like the changes to the App-V Console, I kind of wish there were more features added to it in the way of functionality. I might be the only person in the world that still see’s value in the native Full Infra…but I do. I wish the App-V 5.0 Native Tools delivered the same experience we get with Bram Wolfs App-V 5.0 Scheduler tool but at least we have that option thanks to Bram’s hard work! Where SCCM lacks for deploying to Virtual Desktops in a VDI, App-V Full Infrastructure could slip in there and become a useful product for all of us working within a Data Center. But I digress! More positive steps forward for App-V. Much more positive than Negative! Get on it!

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