In a blog post this week, Microsoft's Karri Alexion-Tiernan announced the Beta for App-V 5.0, plus an additional MDOP add-on called UE-V. (The App-V 5.0 Beta is available from Connect). I want to provide all of those people in the mist of their Windows 7 migrations that are putting a lot of effort into App-V 4.6 Sp1 some advice. And there are a heck of a lot of people right in the middle of that migration right now!
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Take a deep breath. It's OK. You are not wasting time or money. I'll explain...
App-V 5.0 is the most dramatic change to App-V in a really long time, possibly the biggest since the initial release by Softricity. While I have been working with previous private releases for some time, I was surprised by the Beta release this week. Microsoft doesn't reveal dates to us, even under NDA, but I didn't expect a public beta until probably the end of June.
If you don't know the NDA process, it works like this. Microsoft reveals a lot of stuff to us in advance, to get our feedback and help tune what they are building. Some of what they reveal might not make it into the final product, while some of it might not be in the Beta version and will appear later. Then they don't let us know what is in or out when they announce. We can only talk about the things that are publicly visible (in announcements or the actual product), so when the beta happens we have to download the Beta to determine what is or isn't in there with our own two eyes. I have been making a few posts in my private blog here: http://www.tmurgent.com/TMblog. This will be on ongoing effort.
The release sports a more modern replacement for the current App-V Server, and the biggest impact of the release will only be to folks using the App-V Server. The Sequencer looks mostly the same, however the output has a new APPV format that replaces the SFT format. The Client is also updated, with the biggest change being the removal of the virtual drive letter that was a pain point for anyone moving to App-V in the past (although once you find an available drive letter it isn't a problem any more). In between, the plumbing is all changed, with RTSP and block level streaming replaced by HTTP and SMB streaming. These changes have less impact to those using SCCM or the Stand-alone client, but they are significant. There are a ton of other things to talk about also, but those will have to wait.
With the dramatic change in format, there is a package converter to help. You better learn powershell (and I have a tool to help with the conversion). But the process of sequencing is pretty much the same (other than the new output format) -- after all the real effort is figuring out how the apps really work and how you want them to work differently than what the ISV thinks.
The changes in this release are probably the biggest since the original release of SoftGrid. Do not expect Microsoft to have a final release quickly. This feels like a long release cycle to me, with such dramatic changes. Features may come and go in that process as well. Some still remember the features added in the App-V 4.5 RTM version that were not even visible in RC1! And once we have a final release, we all will need time to find and determine how to handle apps that no longer work in the new version. While I expect to be able to add many more apps to App-V that weren't possible/worth-it in the past with 5.0, I can't imagine such radical changes not leaving one or two behind.
Finally, I'll just mention that it is not insignificant that Microsoft also released a Beta for 4.6SP2 last month. The purpose of that Beta is to support Windows 8. I can't say more yet, but if 4.6SP2 gives you a better feeling that packaging and deploying in App-V 4.6SP1 today has more legs to it, that would be a good thing.
So when the guy or gal down the hall asks if what you are doing now with 4.6SP1 makes any sense, the answer is YES! Do play with the beta. But don't let a future product announcement slow down your current migration to Windows 7.