Microsoft Gets Serious About App Virtualization


Formerly called SoftGrid Application Virtualization, App-V 4.5 is Microsoft's attempt to push application virtualization into the mainstream. App-V's key benefits involve streaming applications from servers to users' PCs while giving IT centralized control and management of headache-inducing concerns like licensing and updates.

App-V 4.5 will be included in the next version of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), a bundle of virtualization technology that also includes desktop virtualization, inventory services, System Center desktop error monitoring, and group policy management.

Microsoft plans to release MDOP 2008 R2 "in the next several weeks," said Shanen Boettcher, general manager of Windows Product Management for the enterprise, in a Tuesday blog post.

MDOP is an important strategic asset for Microsoft, which as of mid-June had invested more than $400 million in MDOP and sold more than 6.5 million MDOP licenses. However, some channel partners have expressed concern over Microsoft's policy of requiring companies to sign licensing agreements to obtain certain virtualization components.

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Microsoft is also introducing a new Service Providers License Agreement (SPLA) that will let service providers to use App-V 4.5 to stream applications to their customers under a Software as a Service model. Additionally, Microsoft is loosening the reins of its Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) licensing to account for virtualized desktops running as local or VDI-based virtual machines.