App-V 5.0 Beta 2 Out Now
Microsoft released a second beta test version of App-V 5.0, the application virtualization solution, this time with the capability to test the latest Office 2013 customer preview. The Office 2013 customer preview itself was announced last week.
App-V virtualizes apps by "sequencing" them into packages through a Sequencer application. Those apps then typically get streamed down to end users from a server. With beta 2 of App-V 5.0, Microsoft has already performed the sequencing step, allowing App-V users to gain quicker access to the Office 2013 preview as a virtualized app.
The App-V 5.0 beta 2 can be downloaded at Microsoft's Connect portal (it requires filling out a survey to use the beta). The App-V packages for Office Professional Plus, Visio Professional and Project Professional can be downloaded at this page. Those packages specifically work with the new beta, but not with older App-V versions.
Microsoft did the prepackaging of Office 2013 due to customer feedback, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.
"By listening to customer feedback, Microsoft has done this on behalf of our App-V customers. Quite simply, they just need to download the App-V for New Office package provided directly from Microsoft and roll it out to their users just like any other App-V virtual application," the spokesperson explained by e-mail.
Microsoft also restored reporting capabilities in App-V 5.0 beta 2. IT pros can track "virtual application inventory and utilization" with the beta 2 version, according to a Microsoft blog post. The reporting capability had gone missing from the first beta of App-V 5.0, which was released in April.
"We heard from customers that this [reporting] was an important feature so we have added it into App-V 5.0 Beta 2," the spokesperson explained. "Customers can leverage SQL Reporting Services to access the data in the App-V Database to customize reports."
Lastly, beta 2 adds Microsoft PowerShell command-line functionality, which can be used to automate management procedures and sequencing in App-V 5.0. This automation capability wasn't possible before this beta.
"Before the betas of App-V 5.0, the App-V Sequencer and the App-V Client provided scripting through command-line switches to their individual executable files and the management server could not be scripted," the Microsoft spokesperson explained. "In App-V 5.0 Beta 2, the sequencer, client and server are extensively scriptable through PowerShell."
App-V is one of about six tools in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) suite for IT pros. The last release of the suite was called "MDOP 2011," but Microsoft has made many changes to the individual tools in the pack without announcing a new suite release. It's not clear when the next suite will appear.
MDOP is available in three ways: through Software Assurance or Virtual Desktop Access licensing, or through a Windows Intune subscription. In all three cases, MDOP is available for an extra cost, priced at $10 per device per year.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.