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App-V: Why it should be the most important tool in your virtualization tool belt

Read the entire post here.

As discussed in previous posts, Microsoft’s Desktop Virtualization allows flexibility to deliver, test and manage the user settings, applications and your operating system, Windows 7, more easily. Today I’d like to further explore Application Virtualization, which is a key component to a complete desktop virtualization strategy. More specifically, I’ll review some of the business benefits customers are already experiencing today and how Microsoft partnerships can deliver added value.

Application virtualization helps to eliminate conflicts between applications, removes the need to install those applications on PCs, enables multiple versions of an application to coexist on the same machine and provides a faster, less intrusive way to deliver and update applications on demand. You can apply application virtualization to your local desktops, your RDS deployments, or your VDI desktops.

Based on the above, the benefits are clear and as a result we’re seeing that application virtualization, and specifically Microsoft‘s App-V, is quickly becoming a mainstream technology for organizations. Customers are indicating that App-V delivers savings throughout the application management lifecycle.


App-V with Appsense : Better Together

Read the entire post here.

I was talking with Stephen Rose, the owner of this blog, and he was saying that one of the top pain points that he hears from you frequently is transferring the user profiles when migrating from XP to Win7. In today’s blog post we are going to touch on Microsoft and its partner’s offerings that we feel will help solve that pain point.

This week, Karri Alexion-Tiernan posted a blog on the Windows For Your Business blog about the value of using App-V.For those not familiar, App-V is Microsoft’s flagship Application virtualization solution that enables you (IT pros) to deploy applications based on user’s identity and role, providing a more efficient way to deliver and mange applications centrally. Product Manager AJ Smith talked about User State Virtualization (USV) in his blog; how Microsoft’s USV technologies like Folder Redirection and Roaming Profiles empower you to provide users a consistent windows experience across multiple desktops and laptops, by separating user’s data and settings from the physical device and replicating it centrally.

One of Microsoft Premium partners Appsense provides user virtualization solutions that extends Microsoft’s USV offering by providing additional capabilities that’s helps in migration of XP profiles to Windows 7 profiles by seamlessly combining the two into a single version, thus accelerating Win 7 deployment in your organization. It can also abstracts both user’s desktop personalization and application settings, providing a consistent application experience across physical AND virtual applications. For additional info on Appsense, visit their website.

You can complement the benefits of both App-V and USV by deploying them together so that users can be provisioned both their applications and data on demand from multiple devices, thus reducing the dependency on one piece of hardware. In this blog we will go a level deeper and talk about what you should consider when implementing App-V with Appsense user virtualization. To get an overview – you can also watch this webinar from Appsense on App-V integration. Enough said on the value – let’s get into the technology piece!

I caught up with two Microsoft’s MVPs – Alaa Ajweh and Tim Mangan who shared some guidance and best practices on deploying App-V with Appsense to support user profile virtualization on Windows 7, so let’s hear in their own words!


The Top 7 Deployment Resources for Windows 7

The Top 7 Deployment Resources for Windows 7
By Jeremy Chapman, Senior Product Manager – Windows Division, Microsoft Corporation

Just before flying to Tech•Ed Berlin a month ago, I guest-blogged for Keith Combs. In the Windows 7: Best of Deployment Compilation, I enumerated 34 key deployment resources ranging from blogs to videos to complete virtual-machine-based deployment environments. While 34 different resources sounds like a bunch of stuff to read, watch, and play with, it actually only scratches the surface of the information that’s available. The Springboard Series pages showcase most of these 34 resources, as well as additional content I didn’t call out in that blog. In this article, I will distill that list, counting down the seven most valuable resources to consult as you begin your quest toward Windows deployment.

This article is mainly geared toward people who haven’t needed to worry about Windows deployment and were recently tasked with figuring it out. It’s not just about cloning a bunch of reference computers with sector-based imaging tools. And, thanks to heavier-hitting automation and less custom scripting work, deployment is much more fun.

I’m going to put these seven items in order of consumption-instead of order of importance. As with most of my blogs, I aim to make this marketing-free, and I’m highlighting items to get the work done using primarily free tools. Let’s get started!

Deploying Windows 7 from A to Z
I wrote this as a blog series almost a year ago, and it quickly became the most informal whitepaper ever published by Microsoft (to my knowledge). This is an "unplugged" session that explains deployment tools and processes end-to-end.

Deploying Windows 7: Essential Guidance from the Windows 7 Resource Kit and TechNet Magazine
This downloadable eBook explains all of the Windows 7 deployment tools succinctly and without glossing over anything. In my opinion, this is actually the most important item on the list.

Planning Optimized Desktops and Windows 7 Projects with MAP
If you are going to target some of your existing hardware and don’t have a great inventory now, or if you just want to build nice reports to show less technical people which hardware will and won’t work, this video outlines how to use the free* Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit to do just that. (Approximately 5 minutes)

Application Compatibility Toolkit (Five-Part Video Series)
Okay, I’m cheating here a little by using one entry to highlight five items, but if you watch all five videos, you will learn about everything from installing the toolkit and taking an application inventory to triaging and fixing any detected incompatible applications. (Approximately 50 minutes total)

Thrive Live! Migrating from IE6 to IE8 (Two-Part Webcast Series)
Chris Jackson is a personal hero of mine, and in this two-part series he explains how to think about migrating Web applications from Internet Explorer (IE)6 to Windows IE8 without using virtualization crutches. These demo-heavy webcasts highlight real-world scenarios to configure, manage, deploy, and ensure the compatibility of Web applications with Internet Explorer 8. (53 minutes total)

Building the Deployment Environment and Initiating the Install and Migrating the PC
These two videos explain how to use Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 to create fully automated Windows XP to Windows 7 migrations that include data, applications, drivers, and packages. (Approximately 20 minutes total)

Windows 7 and Office 2010 Proof of Concept Jumpstart Kit
The only thing better than powerful, task sequence-based automation is having everything already built and working in virtual machines for you to play with. Test it, reverse engineer it, customize it, do whatever you want with it. The Proof of Concept (PoC) Jumpstart Kit provides resources in preconfigured VHD files, with MDT and the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) already installed. It’s prebuilt to deploy a desktop proof of concept with Windows 7, Office 2010, Internet Explorer 8, and Microsoft Application Virtualization using the technologies in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack. Access the guidance online or download the entire kit.

There you have it—my top 7 deployment resources. If you are new to the deployment space, or revisiting it after a long hiatus, this content will give you a pretty good grasp on everything out there and roughly how it works. Plus, it will take you as little as one day to go through these resources. Visit the Springboard Series on TechNet for even more Windows 7 content recommendations.

One last thing… As I write this, my countdown clock gadget on my desktop tells me there are 3 years, 4 months and a few days left until Windows XP end of support, so if you plan to roll out Windows 7 over three years of hardware replacement, now is a good time to start. If it was me, however, and I was on a three-year hardware replacement cycle, I would deploy Windows 7 to the hardware I’ve purchased over the last two years and target this coming year’s new hardware investments for Windows 7. That way, I’d only need to touch these machines once, and the recently purchased hardware can enjoy blazing fast user state migration via hard links. The tools I introduced in this Top 7 list make targeting existing hardware a reasonable operation—even for the more conservative IT shops out there.

Thanks for reading!


Springboard Series Presents: Windows Deployment Made Easy

Watch this discussion with Microsoft and external IT Professional influencers as they discuss Windows operating system deployment. So you want to deploy Windows, but where do you start? What tools should you use? Learn everything you need to know about Windows deployment from the experts.

Watch the video here.

Speaker(s): Michael Niehaus, Rhonda Layfield, Stephen Rose, Mikael Nystrom,Tim Mintner, Jeremy Chapman, Johan Arwidmark
Event: Tech·Ed North America
Year: 2009
Track: Windows Client


Springboard Series: Understanding Group Policy Settings in Internet Explorer 8

Nice post over on Springboard.

“To start, I wanted to address that Internet Explorer 8 has over 1300 Group Policy entries that can be configured, which is great for keeping your environment managed and safe. That can also create some challenges in wrapping your head around all of the possibilities, so I wanted to begin with a list of 10 entries that are usually the most asked-about control locations for IE8 from a support perspective. Hopefully, this will give a bit of a "jumping off" point to managing Internet Explorer with Group Policy. It’s one of the most powerful features of using Internet Explorer 8 in an Active Directory domain, so I want to make this easier to use and understand.”

Read the full post here.