This morning as part of our Windows 8.1 preview announcement on the Windows for your Business blog, we also announced the beta availability of two Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack products that will support the Windows 8.1 preview, User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) 2.0 and Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.0 SP2.
As critical components of Microsoft’s Desktop virtualization story, UE-V is an on premise solution that captures and centralizes application and Windows settings for the user. This enables users to change devices without reconfiguring their applications or settings. App-V enables a user’s desktop applications to be delivered virtually anywhere, regardless of their device
As User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) was only released 8 months ago, let me briefly remind you what it does. UE-V focuses on providing a personal and flexible experience for the end user, being simple and versatile for the IT Pro to enable what applications should have their settings roam, and be easily integrated and can scale through your existing tools and infrastructure. UE-V 2.0 continues to deliver on these focus area by:
- Supporting Windows 8 apps enabling you to personalize these apps across your devices.
- Providing tools giving you flexibility to control how your own applications and personal settings roam with the new Company Settings Center.
- Delivering enhancements to the underlying sync engine to optimize the integration and scalability of UE-V with your existing infrastructure.
Let’s now go into some more detail.
Windows 8 app support
We have added Windows 8 app support which enables you to selectively manage how users roam their application settings, across the full application spectrum from mainstream Microsoft Store apps, purchased commercial apps, to in house developed line of business apps. Administrators can define which Windows 8 apps are synchronized and all the apps that come out of the box in Windows 8 and 8.1 can roam their settings by default. The triggers used to roam the Windows 8 apps settings are on open, close, loss of focus and by default every 30 minutes. Now your users can roam their complete application experience, be it with desktop applications and/or Windows 8 and 8.1 apps and get a consistent personal experience.
Company Settings Center
To give you and your users more flexibility and control we have included a new feature called Company Settings Center which installs with the UE-V agent. If enabled by administrators, Company Settings Center allows users to control, view and troubleshoot application and OS settings monitored by UE-V. The Company Settings Center also allows the user to manually sync their settings without having to wait for an automatic sync to occur. Users access the Company Settings Center from the Control Panel, Start menu or Start screen, and from the UE-V tray icon. See screen shot below for the beta version of Company Settings Center.
To enhance how UE-V integrates and scales into your existing infrastructure, we have also made updates to the sync provider. In UE-V 1.0 SP1 we synchronized application settings when an application opened or closed, and your Windows settings on lock and unlock, login or logoff, lock or unlock, or RDS session connect or disconnect start. The new sync provider in UE-V 2.0 now also allows a sync at specific intervals that you can define (default is every 30 minutes) and eliminates the need for the Offline Files technology in Windows which was previously required for users who were not always connected.
Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V).
UE-V is not the only critical component of our virtualization story, we would now like to discuss a second component, Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V). App-V enables anywhere access to virtualized applications on any authorized PC without application installs. Microsoft’s has a long history of providing flexible application virtualization with powerful management, and making the virtual application behave as if it was locally installed. App-V 5.0 SP2 builds on these solutions through the following new features:
- Shell extension support, enriching the user experience.
- Sequencing enhancements, simplifying the virtual application creation process.
Let’s now go into some more detail on these new features in App-V.
Shell extension support
By building on App-V 5.0 investments which delivered you the ability to virtualize highly integrated applications, App-V 5.0 SP2 is providing support for a frequently requested extension point into the operating system, shell extensions. For example if you virtualize a compression program or a backup program that integrated with the Windows shell, you will now see the contextual options that these apps have like send to zip or backup to archive. Essentially this enables the virtual application to behave more like if it was installed locally on your device.
Powerful and flexible management is a key component of Microsoft’s application virtualization solution, allowing IT to deploy, track and service virtual applications. Continuing the approach, we have made improvements to the sequencer enabling it to automatically detect with the option to include, run time dependencies like MSXML and Visual C++ libraries in the App-V package during the sequencing process. Other additions in App-V 5.0 SP2 beta include general user experience improvements during the application publishing and refresh process, including a new publishing progress bar, to improve the overall experience of deploying a set of applications to a user.
Where can I get the betas?
The public betas for both UE-V 2.0 and App-V 5.0 SP2 are available for download today (Microsoft Account required for download) and when completed, they will ship as part of a future version of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). For those of your who are using App-V 4.6 we are also making available today a public beta of App-V 4.6 SP3 which will also support Windows 8.1. We’re delighted, with this beta announcement, sharing in the excitement around Windows 8.1 preview, I encourage you to review these betas in your own organization and let us know what you think on the springboard blog. To learn more about MDOP, make sure to visit the MDOP Zone on the Springboard Series on TechNet