This week, Microsoft finally announced their plans for App-V. They will move App-V into the core of the operating system. Microsoft’s Steve Thomas, speaking in a webinar with Flexera, made the announcement (near the end of the webinar). This is HUUUUUUUUUGE!
This work has been ongoing for some time, and I had the opportunity to meet with the developers in their new home in Redmond late last year. Certainly, moving App-V “in the box” is no simple feat, which is in part why there was not a November refresh that we are used to with App-V.
Nor has Microsoft been talking about App-V much, leaving much of the conversation about it to vendors selling alternative (well, really cooperative, as all of them will tell you that you still need App-V even after you buy their solution) techniques for dealing with Applications. Thankfully, the NDA shackles are now off and we can now publicly talk about the future of App-V.
While the publicly announced details are few, we know that “in the box” refers to Windows 10 Enterprise SKUs ONLY, and will start showing up in the Redstone release as a feature. Whether the feature is enabled by default or not was not specified, but my money is on it being something you have to enable. Not addressed in the announcement, it is reasonable to assume that it also shows up in Server 2016 as well, I would guess as a role feature of RDS. Nothing was said about back-porting it to Windows 7, but I would expect Windows 7 to continue to use the installable client as it does today.
Steve referred to a series of release targets, Redstone 1 and Redstone 2, which are known commonly as anticipated release flights of Windows 10 expected out this spring/summer and sort of tied to Server 2016. While detail was lacking, I interpret that Redstone 1 will work using the PowerShell interface (stand-alone client) and with the existing App-V 5.1 server, while Configuration Manager support will require Redstone 2 (well, unless you send them out as powershell script packages instead of embedded App-V 5 Deployment type).
Adding App-V into the OS directly is something we have looked for ever since the acquisition of Softricity nearly 10 years ago. Back then, it didn’t make sense to Microsoft. In part, it was a niche solution back then, and Microsoft also had plans to monetize it via what became MDOP, an add-on suite for Enterprises. But with Microsoft ownership and stamp of approval of the technology, App-V became much more mainstream in the Enterprise market. I’m not privy to the numbers, but even without anyone really trying to sell enterprises App-V recently it seems to be in use in the majority of them.
What I look forward to, once the integrations are complete, is what opportunities it will open up. With the developers in Redmond (rather than Boston or Utah), and being part of the core OS, they are no longer restricted by the “Chinese Firewalls” put in place as part of the anti-trust lawsuits of the past. Performance and Compatibility should both increase, but perhaps with access, new ideas can abound as well.