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Microsoft moves ahead with plan for app virtualization for servers

Microsoft execs have been talking up the concept of application virtualization for years. It now seems they're ready to put their roadmaps where their mouths have been.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Microsoft execs have been talking up the concept of application virtualization for years. It now seems they're ready to put their roadmaps where their mouths have been.

Microsoft's App-V team is working on an app-virtualization product that will be optimized to run on servers, according to a recent job posting unearthed on the "Codename Windows" blog. From the job posting:

"Join the Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) team and work on a new v1 product to bring the revolutionary Application Virtualization technology to a new market - the datacenter. Server Application Virtualization will effectively let any application be repackaged as an xcopyable application, making deployment vastly simpler and more reliable."

I asked Microsoft about the posting and was told the company has been discussing the concept of app virtualization for servers before, and that there "are no product announcements for the foreseeable future."

(As any Microsoft watcher worth her/his salt knows, the key words here are "foreseeable future." That simply means the new product isn't ready to launch. But it's not a denial that something's percolating.)

The Softies gave a couple of additional less-than-helpful hints in their response to my query. Group Product Manager Patrick O'Rourke provided this statement:

"It (app virtualization for servers) is an area of interest to Microsoft customers. One of the key benefits is a significant reduction of server OS images. Instead of having an image for each instance of a server applications, you'll just have one golden image for each OS you're using. If you need to patch that OS, you only do it to one image instead of all the images that have that OS."

Microsoft also provided a pointer to this article: "Microsoft to bring Application Virtualization on servers." From that blog post, which dates back to January 2008:

"If Microsoft releases Application Virtualization for Windows Server it's not killing its Hyper-V strategy: it's implicitly suggesting to use hardware virtualization for OS delivery and application virtualization for services delivery."

App-V (part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack) is based on the SoftGrid technology Microsoft acquired in early 2006 when it bought Softricity. App-V lets users run applications without actually installing them on a local machine. This allows companies who want to make available a single image of Office or a custom line-of-business application to multiple users by pushing it out to them without having to touch each desktop.

Would you be interested in seeing a similar concept applied to servers -- i.e., a virtualization product or service that would allow IT stafs to deploy server apps from a single image across multiple machines?

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