Why we use Microsoft App-V

It seems strange that I’ve never written this article before.  I haven’t needed to.  But we need to be reminded now and then.

Those of us using App-V, which includes most of the largest, and best run, enterprises around the world, do so because it is the easiest way to customize, prepare, and deliver applications to internal users. That’s pretty much it.  Oh, there are a bunch of things we can talk about that go into that, but it really comes down to that statement.

We can talk about portability of your customizations.  How we can prepare once for a Windows 7 desktop and use it on Windows 8 or 10 XXXX, where XXXX changes every 6 months, or on Remote Desktop Servers too.  Prepare once, run everywhere.

We can talk about how App-V transforms applications written for a single user desktop and make it work in a multi-user platform like RDS, Citrix, and others.

We can talk about delivering multiple versions of the same app to the same user simultaneously.  Making inhouse LOB app upgrades possible without any risk or downtime.

We can talk about how the isolation provided by App-V makes running these applications safer.  Not a full fledged anti-malware solution, but a lot safer indeed.

Sure, we can’t put everything in App-V.  There are things like device drivers and old COM+ apps, for example that don’t work in isolation.  But we can deliver these components externally, and even use App-V to do that for us if we want.

Microsoft wants vendors to modernize their apps, and are having a hard time in getting the vendors to do it. Their latest announced initiative, MSIX, is probably years away from reality and we don’t know whether it will succeed better than the last two attempts.

But using App-V, IT can modernize those apps today in a way that is very much like what MSIX modernization will do in the future.

For those using App-V on Windows 7, their experience of moving to Windows 10 has been that they have not needed to worry about the apps.  That migration has been all about how to control a very different OS and the user start menu experience that it comes with.  Efforts on retesting App-V apps (for those that bothered) in that migration have been a waste of time.

Over the last three years, very quietly, we have made the app packaging process with App-V the easiest to do. Using a combination of tooling from Microsoft, plus third party apps (many of which are free, such as my AppV_Manage, AppXManifestEditor, and PassiveInstall), we have honed down a process that takes less time, produces higher quality, better performing, and less fragile packages. You still needs a skilled resource for the packaging, but it is far easier and faster to grow a junior resource into a world class App-V packager than it is to build an MSI one.

That’s why we use App-V.

Author: Tim Mangan

Tim is a Microsoft MVP, and a Citrix CTP Fellow. He is an expert in App-V and MSIX.