What to Expect in User Experience Virtualization Beta 2

A few weeks ago at TechEd North America you might have heard that we announced that Beta 2 of User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) would be available by the end of the month. Fulfilling that commitment, I am happy to say that we are making it available today for you to download from http://www.microsoft.com/getuev.

For those of you who have not heard of UE-V before, let me give you a quick overview. UE-V allows you to change your device and keep your experience by providing you with a consistent and personal Windows experience. Regardless if you are using a rich desktop or a VDI session, a physically installed or virtually deployed application, UE-V will give you your unique experience that matches your work style. For additional background, check out the Springboard blog post I wrote back in April when we announced the first beta.

In Beta 1 we got a lot of feedback about what you like about the product and what you wanted added via the feedback section of the UE-V Connect site and at the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS), where we showed the product at the Desktop Virtualization booth and in a breakout session. We took that feedback to heart and this is helping us build a solution that best fits your needs, so please keep it coming.

What should you expect in the Beta 2 release? As with any beta, we found a few bugs that needed to be fixed so we took care of those, but we also spent some time on adding new features. The one that I am most excited about is the ability to roam operating system settings between Windows 7 and Windows 8. In Beta 1 we were able to roam operating system settings between Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 which was great. But as many of you are starting to test Windows 8, we heard that you wanted to roam settings between Windows 7 and Windows 8 so you don’t have to reconfigure your operating system experience. Now with Beta 2, you can roam the relevant operating system settings between Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Another area of focus for Beta 2 was supporting more operating system settings. We have now added roaming of the Start menu, taskbar, folder options (like showing hidden files or extensions for known file types), and region/language settings, giving you a more complete operating system experience when roaming between devices. One thing to note is that roaming some of these operating system settings will affect login process. Due to how Windows is designed, there are some parts of operating system experience that can only be safely applied and synced at login and logoff.

We know that some of you are very sensitive to having anything that affects the login process no matter how minor that delay might be. In our testing, we have seen this to increase login times by less than one second, but you should always test this in your environment to see how this might affect your users. Understanding this concern, there is way to choose what parts of operating system experience you can roam. By default, these parts of the experience are not synced, but you can easily turn them on via Group Policy.

Some of you who used Beta 1 might be saying wait a minute, support for Group Policy? Yes, being able to easily manage UE-V and making sure that it can integrate and scale into your existing infrastructure is another high priority for us. In Beta 2, we have made available a Group Policy template to help you keep the UE-V agent’s configuration consistent across the organization.

The last new addition I will quickly call out is that on top of support for Internet Explorer 9 and 10 that we provided in Beta 1, we have added the ability to roam setting for Internet Explorer 8 and the ability to roam the home page setting and favorites between the three versions.

As you can see we have added even more value to UE-V and hope that you tryout UE-V Beta 2. If you used Beta 1 and move to the Beta 2, let me give you a few words of wisdom from my personal experience:

  1. You will need to uninstall Beta 1, before going to Beta 2. There is no upgrade path.
  2. Delete all the settings packages the Beta 1 UE-V agent created in the setting store and in c:users“username”appdatalocalMicrosoftUEV. We made some updates to the settings package format and these will not work with Beta 2.
  3. Make sure you register any additional settings location templates you created with UE-V Generator since the uninstall will unregister them. This can be easily done using the settings location catalog feature that allows the UE-V agent to check a network share for new, updated or removed settings location templates.
  4. Before you create a settings location template, check out the UE-V Settings Location Template Gallery to see if someone already created it.

Thanks for the interest in UE-V. To learn more about the product, check out the UE-V Resource Zone on Springboard where we will be posting some new videos over the next few weeks and don’t forget to download the Beta 2 and provide feedback on the UE-V Connect page.