November 12, 2012, 8:35 PM — The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) is a suite of tools available to Microsoft Software Assurance customers that enables IT admins to manage Microsoft environments more effectively. App-V--one of the tools included in MDOP--has been updated with significant enhancements IT admins and users will appreciate.
What is App-V
Let's start with a little background on App-V, which is short for application virtualization. Rather than having you install separate copies of software on individual PCs, App-V enables organizations to host the application and deliver it virtually to users. From the user's perspective, the software looks and acts as if it's installed locally, but from the IT admin's point of view it is much easier to manage and maintain a single instance of the application.
App-V software is never installed locally, so there are no conflicts or compatibility issues to worry about. The software is streamed from the App-V server and can be cached and executed locally so it's still available even if the system isn't online. App-V can permit organizations to continue using legacy applications that can't be installed locally on newer versions of Windows, or to run newer software on older versions of Windows.
One of the benefits of virtualizing applications for a business or IT admin is that it is much easier to maintain. When a new version of the software comes out, there is only one system to install it on. When security patches or software updates are released, only one instance of the application needs to be updated. IT admins manage the configuration of the application(s) so its easier to ensure that all users have a consistent experience.
New and Improved
Previous incarnations of App-V have left something to be desired. Microsoft has listened to customer feedback, though, and continues to evolve the product to provide a smoother, more consistent experience.
A recent post on Microsoft's Springboard Series Blog details one of the primary stumbling blocks with previous versions of App-V. In a nutshell, applications hosted in App-V have been too isolated. There are good reasons for maintaining each application in its own silo, but some applications need to work together in order to be used effectively, and to enable users to take advantage of all the software is capable of.