What is MS App Virtualization?

Last Updated:
April 11, 2024

What is MS App Virtualization?

MS App Virtualization—aka Microsoft® App-V—is a component of the Windows® desktop and server operating systems that separates and isolates Win32 applications running on the OS. App-V also provides centralized delivery forthese virtualized applications, steaming them to an end user’s device without installing them on their device—essentially, separating Windows applications from the Windows OS. Since only the App-V client is installed on the device,there is minimal impact on the host OS, or the applications being streamed to the user.

App-V will also make complete application suites (like Microsoft Office) available to users, or selected apps within the suite. The App-V client presents users with a list of the applications they are permitted to access.

App-V sandboxes the execution environment for each app so that different versions of the same software can run concurrently, mutually exclusive applications can safely co-exist on the sameuser system, and legacy apps (like those developed for Windows 7 and Windows XP, which are both end-of-life) can continue to be utilized. Another benefit of App-V is that applications can be run on older Windows machines and OS, extending the investment in user devices.

However, unlike other application virtualization or publishing solutions like GO-Global, App-V will not run non-Windows platforms, like iOS®, Android, MacOS, and Chrome OS.

App-V Architecture

App-V Management server: provides overall management functionality for the App-V infrastructure. For high availability, IT can install and configure the Management server on multiple computers, with a network load balancer to keep server requests balanced. To ensure scalability, IT can add more servers as needed to support high loads, utilizing a load balancer.

App-V Publishing Server: provides functionality for virtual application hosting and streaming. The publishing server doesn't require a database connection andsupports HTTP and HTTPS protocols. To increase availability, IT can install the Publishing server on multiple computers behind a network load balancer to keep server requests balanced.

App-V Client: installed on the client machine to enable apps virtualized by App-V to run on that machine.

App-V Licensing

Beginning with Windows 10, App-V is included in Windows 10 for Enterprise (version 1607). If IT is already using App-V, performing an in-place upgrade to Windows 10/11 on user devices automatically installs the App-V client and migrates users’ App-V applications and settings. (Note that older end user devices may not be able to support an upgrade to Windows 10/11.)

App-V cannot be licensed as a stand-alone product. Licensing is user-based and is either acquired by licensing the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for use on client operating systems, or as part of the Microsoft Remote Desktop Server (RDS) Client Access License (CAL) for use on Remote Desktop Servers.

NOTE: Microsoft will end-of-life App-V in April 2026 and is recommending that customers replace App-V with Azure Virtual Desktop with MSIX app attach. (MSIX is a Windows app package format that provides a modern packaging experience to all Windows apps. The MSIX package format preserves the functionality of existing app packages and/or install files in addition to enabling new, modern packaging and deployment features to Win32, WPF, and Windows Forms apps.)

Where is App-V Most Useful?

Microsoft app virtualization is best applied to enterprises that need to deliver multiple, conflicting, and legacy applications to end users utilizing Windows devices. For ISVs that are providing one or two applications to customers that use a variety of devices and operating systems, App-V would limit their market to only users with devices that run Windows.

Additionally, ISVs using App-V will need to comply with Microsoft licensing requirements, purchasing an App-V license for each end user device utilizing App-V, or purchasing CALs for each user (App-V use is included in CALs) if utilizing with Remote Desktop Services(RDS).

App-V Alternative

GO-Global publishes Windows applications from any cloud to any device that utilizes a web browser, not just Windows devices. GO-Global replaces all Microsoft RDS functionality to publish Windows applications simply and affordably. This allows ISV’s to scale economically, reduce IT effort, and provide a web-native user experience. To learn more, request a demo here or download a free 30-day trial.