Posted from Windows Team Blog
Today, I’m excited to share two announcements: first, I’d like to welcome a new product to Microsoft’s Desktop Virtualization family – User Experience Virtualization (UE-V). And secondly, we’re announcing that our flagship application virtualization product is being updated to its next major version – Application Virtualization 5.0 (App-V 5.0).
The public betas for both products are available for download today, UE-V and App-V 5.0, and when fully completed, they will ship as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). As a quick overview, UE-V is a user state virtualization product that allows individuals to change devices without reconfiguring applications or settings in Windows 7 or Windows 8. And the newest version of App-V gives IT a more powerful solution to deliver virtually any application, anywhere for a more flexible, integrated and powerful experience across virtualized applications.
But before we get into the details of each and how they contribute to our goal of providing a comprehensive desktop virtualization platform, I want to reflect on the history of virtualization and how far we’ve come. If you’re familiar with the history of desktop virtualization, skip ahead to learn more about our newest addition to MDOP, UE-V.
Desktop virtualization: looking back
If we look back to the 1960s, virtualization was a new concept to combat the exorbitant costs associated with mainframes. But as the cost of hardware decreased, the idea of leveraging virtualization for optimization and cost reduction was left dormant for nearly 30 years. Then, as proliferation of the Internet gave way to distributed computing in the late 1990s, the rising costs associated with managing these systems brought virtualization back as a viable solution to help businesses lower costs by consolidating distributed workloads onto more powerful, centrally located systems.
As virtualization took off in the server and IT management spaces, it became apparent that some aspects of virtualization could also be used to deliver benefits to desktops. The original concept was to separate the physical desktop into individual parts so the components could be delivered more quickly and managed more easily. As virtualization began to deliver Windows from the datacenter to users via sessions in the 1990s, it evolved into a new instantiation known as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).
The original iteration of desktop virtualization and what became VDI both began with a promise to centralize and secure the desktop, as well as simplify management. But VDI also aimed to deliver more flexibility and higher application compatibility. Virtualization continued its evolution on the users’ devices through the introduction of hypervisors, which allows IT to run many instances of Windows on a single PC in an effort to reduce hardware and enable faster development.
As the operating system saw its share of changes related to virtualization, applications also could also benefit, as the need to deliver applications faster, reduce conflicts and ensure availability to the user irrespective of the device was a growing concern. Application virtualization emerged and aimed to address these needs and simplify management of the application itself. Today, there is an increased focus on user configuration settings to create a personalized Windows experience; ultimately, individuals want to have their experience stay with them even when they log in to different instances of Windows.
This shift in thinking about virtualization also mirrors the way professionals approach their personal and business devices. People want flexibility, mobility and choices about how they stay connected and productive. As a result, most enterprise organizations are experiencing device proliferation like never before. From a business perspective, IT wants to support and manage the range of devices brought into its organization, while providing users with a personalized end-user experience and protecting sensitive data.
Here at Microsoft, we’ve seen more and more companies – like Co-operative Group Limited, Deluxe, Group Health Cooperative, Merck, Qualcomm, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and SaaSplaza – deploy our desktop virtualization technologies to empower IT and users with anywhere productivity. With App-V 5.0 and UE-V, we’re expanding virtualization to meet those demands for even more flexibility, mobility and choice.
Moving to the next generation of desktop virtualization
Today’s introduction of User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) came from discussions with customers and industry experts on the need to provide a consistent experience for users across their many devices, as it would be difficult to impossible to create the same experience across every managed device. By implementing UE-V, IT departments can enable a consistent experience for users who have multiple devices provided by their company or choose to bring their personal PC or tablet to work. Now users can change their device and keep their experience without reconfiguring applications each time they login to Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Regardless if it is a rich desktop or a hosted VDI desktop, a traditional application or a virtual application, UE-V enables a personal, consistent Windows experience across devices, matching each person’s unique work style for increased productivity anytime, anywhere. UE-V integrates with our Microsoft Desktop Virtualization products and can be deployed with System Center Configuration Manager, as well as third party management tools. However, the user experience is just one component of a fully virtualized environment.
Taking application functionality to the next level
Business users need and want their applications to be available from anywhere and delivered to them quickly, regardless of the device they are using. To provide users the flexibility they desire and IT departments the efficiency they require, today we announce substantial updates to App-V with the beta of App-V 5.0.
With App-V 5.0, virtual applications work more like traditionally installed applications than ever before thanks to deeper platform integration. App-V 5.0 continues to leverage Windows standards to bring a consistent virtual application experience to the user while giving IT the best of both worlds – the ability to provide isolation from other applications, reducing conflicts and time spent regression testing, and the flexibility to enable connected applications that require a high level of communication to enjoy full interaction.
App-V 5.0 is designed to be easy and efficient to use in VDI environments, allowing IT to make the best use of expensive disk resources without changing the way they get their jobs done. The way this works is simple: App-V 5.0 allows applications to be stored and managed centrally and streamed to users on-demand. Most of the time, when IT sends an App-V application to a user’s device, the device stores a copy of the application for use offline. This lets the user stay productive while disconnected. Think for a moment about VDI, in this scenario there is no disconnected use – the servers providing VDI to users are in the datacenter. For this use-case, App-V 5.0 Beta lets IT simply choose to turn off local application storage, dramatically reducing disk requirements for VDI while leaving the application provisioning and update process unchanged.
Also new in App-V 5.0 is the web-based management interface based on Silverlight. This allows IT to deploy, track and service virtual applications without being tied to an installed management console.
Finally, App-V 5.0 Beta supports Windows 7 and Windows 8, including support for features like seamlessly streaming applications and their updates over Direct Access, integrating with Windows To Go for mobility, or protecting against unauthorized applications with AppLocker.
Other MDOP news
We work closely with our customers to understand what functionality and features are top of mind for their businesses. This input helps to guide how we develop and market new technologies. An emphasis on partnering with our customers to listen to their feedback was one of the drivers which led to the availability of roaming the users’ settings regardless of how Windows desktops and applications are delivered, thus the addition of UE-V in the MDOP suite.
Through these dialogs with customers, partners and industry experts, we also learn which features aren’t used broadly. This is the case with an MDOP product called Asset Inventory Service (AIS). Our customers liked the concept, but felt it could be more powerful as an integrated function of their management tools. As a result of this feedback, we’ll be phasing out this product and discontinuing service as of April 3, 2013.
Desktop virtualization: moving forward
The evolution of desktop virtualization continues to change the landscape of how businesses approach IT challenges, and it is how businesses choose to take advantage of this technology that excites us the most. In a January 2012 report entitled “Planned Research for Desktop Virtualization,” Gartner analysts stated that customers will move beyond the evaluation of desktop virtualization technologies and begin getting serious about actual deployment strategies. This data shows that customers are discovering the key benefits in desktop virtualization technologies, with our products offering businesses the ability to find the right mix of technologies for their needs.
Many years ago, virtualization was just a concept, confined to mainframes that powered large corporations. Today, Microsoft Desktop Virtualization delivers great end-user experiences and enterprise-class solutions that are built with today’s global businesses in mind. We can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring.
For a more technical introduction to UE-V, please jump over to the Springboard Blog.
We encourage you to download and try the betas of UE-V and App-V 5.0. And to learn more about how Microsoft’s Desktop Virtualization offerings can help your business, visit www.microsoft.com/dv.