After my video comparing App-V 4 and 5 went up on BrianMadden.com, I was asked the following question on twitter:
Do you think new App-v could be better than ThinApp?"
In part, I tweeted back that is was an unfair question to ask me. Perhaps I should explain why I responded as I did. There are a few reasons that I can lay out here in this post.
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The first reason it's an unfair question is that I'm biased. Now I try really hard to be fair and independent, but with App-V it's not completely possible for me. I built the original product at Softricity, so it's like one of my children. (And it's really hard to be unbiased about your children!) But at least I know and acknowledge this shortcoming.
Second, I don't use ThinApp. Oh I've kicked the tires (although not in some time), but I'm a consultant and customers are not beating down my doors about ThinApp. For the most part the customers I work with aren't using it. Even though they use ESX, they want App-V. The same goes for the many customers I have using XenApp. They want App-V. Sure there have been a few customers I work with who've tried ThinApp or are even using it for certain parts of the company, and while every one of them indicated they thought App-V was better, I can't be sure they weren't biased too. After all, if they're working with me then they are probably starting a sizable project that's heavily invested in App-V.
Third, I'm a Microsoft MVP for App-V. MVPs are not known to be "fan boys" and are usually willing to heap criticism on Microsoft when appropriate. But I do have inside access to the development team at Microsoft and, well, that just isn't happening for me at VMware. Of course to counter this, I'm also a Citrix CTP and have access to the team that develops their application virtualization product. But it doesn't sway me.
The other part of my response tweet was that I thought the old App-V was better than ThinApp. To be clear on terms here, the "new" App-V means version 5 and the "old" App-V means versions prior to version 5. The new version is a complete rewrite which I discussed in a blog post in November if you missed it.
Ruben's excellent "Smackdown" paper (http://www.pqr.com/application-virtualization-smackdown) lays out a comparison between the "old" App-V and ThinApp and others. Ruben, and the rest of the team that worked on the paper, had to work really hard to keep their own App-V biases out of that paper and probably go overboard to give others a fair shake.
The new App-V does do a lot to knock off a lot of the checkboxes that appear in that paper that don't have the "Applicable" check in them. For the most part, these changes makes the new App-V a much stronger product than the old one. But not always. Sometimes a change just opens App-V up to the same criticisms that apply to ThinApp. It's possible that the only remaining criticism that ThinApp fans can make of the new App-V 5 is that it still requires a client. But I have never considered that a weakness; only a point of strength.
But hey—I don't work for the vendor, but I am biased.
Tim Mangan is a Microsoft MVP for App-V and a Citrix CTP. He is the author of several books, including the new PowerShell for App-V 5 book, and can be found at TMurgent Technologies (www.tmurgent.com) where his title is "Kahuna".