App-V versus ThinApp? That's an unfair question to me.

Do you think new App-v could be better than ThinApp?

After my video comparing App-V 4 and 5 went up on, 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.

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 ( 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 ( where his title is "Kahuna".

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Great timing!

Together with Jurjen and Rory we are finishing the update of the Application Vrtualization Smackdown with App-V 5.0, ThinApp 4.7.3, App-V 4.6 SP2, Cameyo, Citrix, Spoon and Symantec. Within 2 weeks the document should be final and ready to release from


We evaluated ThinApp and App-V.   We actually already own App-V (Software Assurance) and we decided to actually pay for ThinApp because App-V didn't do what we wanted:  The ability to run multiple versions of the same app at the same time on XenApp.  Sure we could deploy the new version on the XenApp server; but nobody could use it until the last person quit the old version.  And no, we didn't want to publish a separate application for the new version.  So, not good enough.  ThinApp does fine there.

It's also 100x more simpler, requires zero infrastructure, and is completely scriptable - exactly how our environment works.  I can see the benefits App-V has over ThinApp, but we simply don't need any of them, such as app streaming.


@Greg to be fair to App-V, it doesn't require an infrastructure either... - Depends how it's implemented..

Would still like to see service and driver support with App-V....

I'm personally a fan of using the right tool for the job... All have their strengths and weaknesses (as pointed out)... Lot to be said for the traditional install too....

Application Jukebox is a fantastic product in terms of what it can do... but it's not suited to the "managed" desktop... - Numecent needs some real direction and leadership IMO... But it can handle pretty much anything (within reason)...