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Migrating User Settings from Office 2003 to a Sequenced Version of Office 2010 running under App-V

Richard Smith has a nice post over on The Deployment Guys blog. 

Read the full post here.

Scenario1 – The Office Only Upgrade

You work in the IT department for large organisation which has an Standard Operating Environment (SOE) based on Windows XP and Office 2003. This is still a fairly common (although thankfully dying) situation. Your organisation is looking to upgrade to Office 2010, however there are some considerations. How do you know you’ve identified all critical Office files and checked their compatibility? Are you aware of every Office add-in being used in your environment? In order to proceed, you decide to leverage your investment in Software Assurance and MDOP, using App-V to deploy Office 2010 along side Office 2003. This will allow your users to get to know Office 2010 and identify any potential compatibility issues, without taking away their existing productivity suite. If something doesn’t work, you can instruct your users to simply keep editing that particular spreadsheet in Excel 2003 until the issue is resolved. This approach will also help you to support your  users adjustments to the change(s), by allowing them access to Office 2003 ‘just in case’.

Scenario 2 – The Windows 7 and Office 2010 Upgrade

OK, say you now work in the IT department for a different large organisation. Unfortunately, like in the first scenario, this company still has an SOE based on Windows XP and Office 2003. However this time you have the IT Director on your side and he/she is keen as mustard to upgrade the whole fleet to Windows 7 and Office 2010. Your organisation has a large number of sites, with varied desktop requirements, so you will need to deploy a light-weight, flexible SOE. You once again decide to leverage your investment in Software Assurance and MDOP. This time you can create a base Windows 7 image without any Microsoft Office products installed (as this will save you a few gigs in your WIM). You sequence Office 2010 using App-V with the intention of streaming the applications only to those PC’s that require them. Things are looking good… your department stands to realise significant savings from reduced software licenses, you have a flexible and efficient SOE ready to go…. the IT Director will be pleased…. maybe it’s time to ask for a pay rise?

So… do either of these scenarios sound familiar? If you’ve gone down these paths you’ve likely been faced with the challenge of migration settings from Office 2003. Take App-V out of the equation and this is a fairly straight forward concept, Office 2010 applications will migrate settings from previous versions the first time they launch… simple. With Office delivered through App-V however it’s a very different story. Sequence Office 2010 either by following the guidance on TechNet, or by using the new Package Accelerator (cool) and you’ll find that none of your user settings get migrated. Essentially, there are 2 reasons for this. First, during the sequencing process, we launch various Office applications a number of times. As such, when the applications launch for the first time on the user’s computer under App-V, they don’t exhibit their normal ‘first run’ behaviour, as it was performed already during sequencing. Second, even if the Office applications tried to perform their ‘first run’ actions, they wouldn’t be able to see the registry keys containing Office 2003 user settings, as these would be overridden by the Office 2010 information in the virtual registry.

In this post I will explain the steps required to deploy Office 2010 using App-V, in a manner that allows each user’s Office 2003 settings to be migrated across. To avoid re-inventing the wheel, I’m going to assume you are already familiar with the Microsoft Office Customization Tool (OCT), which we’ll use as part of the solution. If you haven’t used OCT before, I’d suggest take a look at this TechNet article, which has plenty of technical details and videos. I’m also going to assume that you are familiar with sequencing App-V packages, specifically Office 2010. Microsoft provide some fairly explicit guidance in this TechNet article. OK, let’s make this happen!! This solution is essentially a big ‘’Jedi Mind Trick’ (These aren’t the registry keys you’re looking for). We need to trick the sequenced version of Office 2010 into behaving the way we want. We need to trick it into thinking that Office 2003 was previously installed so it will attempt to migrate settings at ‘first run’. We also need to trick it into thinking that it has never launched before, even though it has, during the sequencing process.

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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.

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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!

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Virtualizing Office 2010 with App-V 4.6

Nice document from the MSSpringboard Twitter.

Download the document here.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Microsoft Office 2010 Office Deployment Kit for App-V is required for sequencing and deploying Microsoft Office 2010. It enables specific features for 32-bit versions of Microsoft Office 2010, including:

  • Extend virtual Office 2010 usage via improved SharePoint integration to Open, Save, Edit files
  • Find your email items quickly with Outlook’s Fast Search
  • Connect to your inbox using Microsoft Outlook Send To functionality
  • Print your documents directly to OneNote
  • Find contents within your documents using Office Document Indexing
  • Open Web-based calendar items and RSS Feeds in Outlook
  • Perform advanced mail configuration using the Virtual Mail Applet
What benefits does the customer receive when using Office 2010 and App-V together?
Deploying Office 2010 with App-V 4.6 solves the top problems we hear from customers: 

1. Speeds up deployment time

2. Easier migration to the latest version of Office

3. Easier application patching and management

Additional benefits include: App-V packages (including Office 2010) can be sent to client machines running 64-bit operating systems.  App-V virtualized Outlook 2010 search is fast and instantaneous, just like non-virtualized Outlook search.

Can I use Click-to-Run to deploy Office 2010 with App-V to the enterprise?

Click-to-Run is a new delivery mechanism for certain retail Office 2010 SKUs intended for end users.  Click-to-Run Office products are not customizable and cannot be deployed in the enterprise like other App-V packages.  Enterprises interested in deploying Office 2010 via App-V must sequence their own Office 2010 packages.  Sequencing Office 2010 requires use of the Microsoft Office 2010 Deployment Kit for App-V, which enables the licensing platform to work with App-V virtualized Office applications.

What OS versions does the Deployment Kit work with?

The following list outlines the supported operating systems for running the Microsoft Office 2010 Office Deployment Kit for App-V.

Operating System

Edition

Service Pack

System Architecture

Windows XP

Professional

SP2 or SP3

x86

Windows Vista

Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate

No service pack, SP1, or SP2

x86, x64

Windows 7

Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate

NA

x86, x64

Windows Server 2003 Remote Desktop Services

Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, or Datacenter Edition

SP1 or SP2

x86, x64

Windows Server 2008 Remote Desktop Services

Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter

SP1 or SP2

x86, x64

Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services

Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter

NA

x64

Does this solve the existing problems with Office 2007 and App-V?

No. This solution does not correct the current limitations when using Office 2007 and App-V together.

Are administrative rights required to install the Deployment Kit? 

Yes. The Deployment Kit is an MSI that must be installed with administrative rights.

Can I deliver/install the Deployment Kit via System Center Configuration Manager or other software delivery tools?

The Deployment Kit can be deployed like any other MSI.  Software delivery tools like System Center Configuration Manager can deliver and install the MSI.

Can I sequence/launch Office 2010 with App-V 4.5x/4.2?

No. Office 2010 is supported only on versions App-V 4.6 and later. We are evaluating the cost of supporting Office 2010 with App-V 4.5, but there are no current plans for support at this time.

Can I deploy Office 2010 to production using App-V?

No.  Office 2010 Deployment Kit is pre-release.  Production deployments are not supported.

Can I upgrade my existing App-V 4.6 Beta Client to the App-V 4.6 Client?
No. The App-V 4.6 Beta Client should be uninstalled before installing the App-V 4.6 Client.

What versions of Office 2010 require use of the Deployment Kit when deployed with App-V?

All. The Deployment Kit serves two purposes: to enable Office 2010 licensing to work for virtualized Office and to enable certain integration features. Please note that all versions of Office 2010 require the Deployment Kit for the licensing components, but the integration features are optional and only supported for 32-bit versions of Office.

Which Office 2010 Beta products can I sequence and deploy with App-V?

The following Office 2010 Beta products may be deployed with App-V:

· Office Professional Plus 2010 Beta

· Office Visio 2010 Beta

· Office Project 2010 Beta

Will I need to redeploy the Deployment Kit when App-V and Office final versions are released?

Yes – this is standard procedure. All beta versions should be removed before RTM version is deployed. To re-deploy, make sure to uninstall the Deployment Kit before installing the latest version.

Why does Office 2010 use the new SPP licensing platform?
The Software Protection Platform (SPP) is new for Office 2010 and leverages the same licensing functionality introduced in Windows Vista and included in all versions of Windows 7. SPP is included in, and required for, all Office 2010 client skus and is an important part of the Office anti-piracy strategy.

To learn more about volume activation of Office 2010, here are some useful links:

· Office Volume Licensing: http://blogs.technet.com/office2010/archive/2009/08/24/volume-activation.aspx

· Microsoft Office 2010 Activation Guidelines: https://partner.microsoft.com/40111510?msp_id=office2010activation

· Overview of Volume Activation for Office 2010: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee624349(office.14).aspx

When will Office 2010 be generally available?

Office 2010 will be available in the first half of 2010.

How does the Deployment Kit enable SPP licensing and the virtualization proxies to work?

Certain Office components like the SPP licensing platform or the Outlook Fast Search indexer cannot work when virtualized. These components integrate with local system features and will not function if they stay in the virtual environment. The Deployment Kit installs Office SPP and proxy components to the machine that facilitate communication between the native environment and the virtual environment.

You indicate the SPP Service must be installed on the Sequencer machine. So why doesn’t the Sequencer capture the SPP service so that I don’t have to install it natively?
All technologies physical or virtual require the SPP component to be installed in order to be in compliance with Office 2010 licensing. Virtualized Office 2010 will not self-install the SPP component when sequencing. Hence, the SPP must be installed in order to sequence Office 2010. The Sequencer actually does not care if the SPP service exists or not. The SPP service must also be natively installed on client machines because the licensing activates itself uniquely with the hardware (i.e., the client machine), and hence, requires a native presence on the machine.

Will Office 2010 work when deployed with App-V to both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows?
Yes. The licensing component is supported for both 32-bit and 64-bit Office on any 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. Hence, Office 2010 will work when deployed to 32-bit or 64-bit. The caveat to remember is that the Office 2010 proxies are supported for 32-bit Office only.

Do I have to use the 4.6 Sequencer to sequence Office 2010?
Yes, Office 2010 will only work with App-V versions 4.6 and greater, including the Sequencer.

Will Office 2010 on App-V work on XP, Vista, and Windows 7?
Yes, this will work on XP, Vista, and Windows 7. We also support Windows 2003 Remote Desktop Services, Windows 2008 Remote Desktop Services, and Windows 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services.

Will you publish an App-V recipe for how to do this once generally available?
Absolutely. We understand that virtualizing Office 2010 Beta is important so we have designed, created, and tested a recipe to sequence Office 2010 Beta to facilitate virtualizing the product. You can download the recipe from www.officeitpro.com

For normal MSI installations of Office 2010 Beta volume-license products, I need to have a Key Management Service (KMS) or Multiple Activation Key (MAK) volume activation solution. Does deploying Office 2010 Beta with App-V bypass these requirements?

No. Licensing for either MSI-deployed Office or App-V-deployed Office would require a MAK key(s) or activation against a KMS server. For more information, see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/office/ee691939.aspx

Is the Deployment Kit only to be used with App-V?

The Microsoft Office 2010 Deployment Kit for App-V is designed for App-V.

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Application Virtualization Smackdown

Great blog post here talking about the various application virtualization methods available.

Read the full article here.

Are you looking for an independent overview of the Application Streaming and Virtualization solutions and curious about the different features and functions each Application Virtualization vendor is offering!? This is the blog and whitepaper you definitely must read!

In the current market there is an increasing demand for unbiased information about Application Virtualization solutions. This white paper is focused on solutions that are anticipated to have an important role in Application Virtualization deployments. An overview of available features of each solution is created to better understand each solution’s capabilities.

The growing reality of the transition to a dynamic and optimized desktop is causing many IT organizations to reevaluate traditional IT operations, deployment, delivery, packaging, support, and management methods. Application Virtualization is a key component in the Optimized Desktop. It’s important to have a Vision and Strategy around Application and Desktop Delivery. Designing, building, managing and maintaining the Application Virtualization infrastructure using the right technologies, corresponding vendors, and products is an important last step.

We see a lot organizations primarily focusing on products and vendors and lacking a clear and profound vision and strategy. This approach isn’t good or bad, it depends on what the goal of the organization is. When the organization needs a point solution, the various vendors and corresponding products can help to solve this issue and fill-in the demands. When the organization is investigating possibilities, advantages, use cases and functionality of the vNext “Optimized desktop”, a profound vision and strategy should be in place.

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Create a Virtual Application Using the App-V Sequencer

The Application Virtualization (App-V) Sequencer is a powerful, easy-to-use tool that enables IT professionals to create a new virtual application. This video will walk you through the different files that make up a virtual application package and teach you how to:

  • Run the App-V 4.6 Sequencer to sequence an application.
  • Create file type associations and shortcuts.
  • Configure a custom application package.

Watch the video here.