Two reasons why User Installed Apps don't matter anymore

It's been awhile since we've talked about User Installed Apps (UIA) on the site. But with the news (rumor?

It's been awhile since we've talked about User Installed Apps (UIA) on the site. But with the news (rumor?) that AppSense is stopping development on their StrataApps UIA project, I'm starting to wonder if UIA even matters anymore? No, actually we've been wondering this a lot. I think I'm ready to say that UIA doesn't matter anymore.

(By UIA, I'm talking about some kind of dynamic run-time app packaging environment that could automatically encapsulate Windows apps that users install when they're running VDI on shared, locked-down disk images. Then their own apps could be bundled up and made available anytime they logged in, regardless of whether the base image was refreshed or not.)

Consider the timeline of UIA conversations on this site:

Two alternatives to user installed apps

It seems like we have two alternatives to user installed apps today.

First is the fact that recent breakthroughs with block-level single instance storage technologies mean that we can have fully persistent, 1-to-1, high performance VDI for a decent price. So all this UIA trickery to make shared images work like traditional desktops isn't really necessary anymore.

Second is the fact that most (or all?) users now have smart phones and tablets they can use to get access to their personal apps. Five years ago if we blocked websites and apps from peoples' work computers, they'd flip out! But now if we only provide users with a locked-down corporate desktop, will they even care? They can use Facebook, Dropbox, YouTube, and Skype on their phones. They probably won't even notice that these things don't work on their work desktops. (Actually this is technique that I've written about in the past. If you want to get your users to move to a locked down desktop, just buy them iPads for their "personal" tasks. $399 for a user's admin rights is a great deal!)

So what do you think? Can we finally put this issue to bed?

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

I actually think that the issue is going to gain momentum vs. loose steam - and dont think that looking at what Appsense does is any indication of which direction the wind is blowing in the customer corridors - not a slam - an opinion.

My thoughts are we are entering a phase where getting the entirety of user STATE (data, settings, apps, policies) under management, and into the data center is primary - delivery device, method, OS, etc is the jump ball.

I also believe that too many of us gravitate to the hyper mobile use case. We forget the 80% of the "iceberg" below the water line that is lan attached task workers on windows (all 600mil of them).

An OS is a collection of debugged device drivers - why would i want to add applications to it? Keep it pure. Apps come from all over: clouds, TS, virtualized, or virtually delivered - as in the case of FlexApp™ UIA - delivered one year ago today and gaining seats daily - so hard for me to agree UIA is anything but taking off.

We should think about "personal windows apps" not as the widgets we all need only, but also - what does IT not want to manage (package, sequence, virtualize, transform) ?  Provide whitelists, blacklists, appstores of allowed apps, etc and you find that you can manage even the unmanaged apps and provide users access to what they believe makes them more productive.

We think about taking the user STATE out of Windows - all of it - and then delivering it at login. VDI, Physical, TS, etc are JUST DELIVERY TYPES. With great power comes great responsibility - and we see customers willing to engage in UIA strategies daily - so long as the operational expectations are there.

Companies want less complex images....not more ....and while the storage advancements are cool - state is not, and should not be STATIC to a device or an image.

Did steve jobs have it right in 1997?


This is a real shame, as I hoped to have a less complex than layers solution to enable the removal of admin rights on client side machines which was also supported. I think that is what the real issue is here. An  unwillingness to support the product even for a fee.  My experience has been that lack of conviction has caused most to not want to highlight the need to customers.

I think all this is very short sighted in a user management tool kit, especially when combined with privilege management features or products that could provide granular management within the UIA layer which is much more useful that what TREX and the folks at LWL provide.

I think the storage techs make 1-1 VDI easier, but this still means bad management practices for a new form factor. As people mature, to reduce costs and risks you need better management and also retain some flexibility.

As to Brian's second point about do the personal stuff elsewhere. That's a terrible end result for IT, as that is now all completely our of governance.

So another case of short sighted vendors lacking vision  coupled with lazy IT practices ultimately does nothing useful for end users...

TREX I hope you keep going with a single user layer that is simple, but partner with some privilege management solutions to enable more granular control.


I guess one could say that UIA never mattered because everyone just cops out...

UIA was a problem a long time ago on physical PCs that was easily cured with granting admin rights. This happened because an organization and/or IT department preferred productivity over security.

The introduction of non-persistant desktops re-introduced the problem, then a solution was given for personalization with layering tools while persistant desktops could also be used.

Sure, price and complexity are going down to make these as possible alternatives, but what you are seeing is another cop out with using admin rights to allow UIA.

StrataApps is a unique tool that can be used in conjunction with layering or persistant desktops but doesn't require admin rights and it has been dissapointing to hear the non-progress since August 2012 as well as this "rumor".

I hope to continue to see current or new tools that eliminate the need for admin rights to allow UIA, because anything less is a cop out and failure to the industry.


@Icelus the UIA features in ProfileUnity that Trex mentions do not require admin rights.  ProfileUnity provide user rights management over UIA for standard users.  It also features whitelists, blacklists, etc.   It is an integrated part of our User Management and can be applied to select users as well.