App-V 5 Challenges

App-V 5 has changed in so many ways compared to version 4 just to bring a consistent virtual application experience. That is what Microsoft tried to accomplish. But when working with the latest release of the product you will soon discover that there are some challenges….

Here is a challenge I ran into when installing the App-V Management and Reporting server:

No remote deployment of the server and reporting database

Remote deployment of the management server database or the reporting database is not possible.  The installer must be run directly on the computer running Microsoft SQL for the database installation to succeed. Most SQL administrators do not allow to run the App-V installation on their SQL servers. 

The best solution is to download the  PrepSQL v2 scripts from Kirx.org

Here are some challenges I ran into when virtualizing applications using App-V 5 SP1. I also validated if they are solved in SP2, released begin December, and SP2 Hotfix 4, release in may 2014.

Here are some challenges I ran into when virtualizing applications using App-V 5 SP1. I also validated if they are solved in SP2, released begin December, and SP2 Hotfix 4, release in may 2014.

Outside the Primary Virtual Application Directory there is no write access

The option “Enforce Security Descriptors” is not available in version 5 and users only have write access in the Primary Virtual Application Directory. Several applications need write access in multiple locations, for example in program files and in AppData. This isn’t possible any more.

I raised a case at Microsoft and the response was: “The good news is that the product group is aware of the issues and the bad news is the issue will not be fixed in SP2 and the proposed method is to set the permissions using a script.”

For more information, see this blog post. On that site there is also the script where Microsoft refers to.

This issue is present in App-V 5 SP1 and solved in App-V 5 SP2 Hotfix 4

Variables in scripts cannot be used because the script runs as system

Scripts (VBS, PowerShell, CMD, etc) can be integrated into the Deployment and User config XML files for many purposes. The drawback is that the script runs under the SYSTEM account so you cannot use something like: C:\Users\%USERNAME% because username is SYSTEM.

This issue is present in App-V 5 SP1 and solved in App-V 5 SP2

You cannot create shortcuts to network applications

Some applications are placed on a network share. Adding a shortcut in the package to point to this network application does not work and the network application will not start.

There is a workaround to give the computer (where the virtual application starts) read access (share and NTFS) on the folder one level higher than the folder where the application is located. This is because the virtual application authenticates using the computer account instead of the user account. I raised a case at Microsoft and the response was: “We don’t know when it will be resolved, it could be some time off”

This issue is present in App-V 5 SP1 and solved in App-V 5 SP2 Hotfix 4

Renaming a shortcut not saved

When opening a package for upgrade it is possible to rename shortcuts. When you save the package and re-open it again in the sequencer to upgrade it, the shortcut names are reverted and the changes are undone.

This issue is present in App-V 5 SP1 and solved in App-V 5 SP2 Hotfix 4

A new GUID cannot be generated

In version 4 it was possible to save a package “As New Package” resulting in a new version ID and a new package ID. This could be used to create a identical package so it could be modified and assigned to a different group of users. In version 5 there is no possibility to create new GUID.

This issue is present in App-V 5 SP1 and solved in App-V 5 SP2 Hotfix 4

Scripts are removed when updating a package

Script can be a part of the App-V 5 package. But when the package is opened for an upgrade, the scripts are removed and need to added manually.

 Other challenges:

UserPending and GlobalPending do no display the correct status.

UserPending and GlobalPending are both commands that display if the package will be replaced by a new version at a reboot (GlobalPending) or logoff/logon (UserPending). These two values do not display the correct status of the packages.

Disabling shortcuts in the deployment configuration files does not always work

When disabling shortcuts to other than .EXE files in the deployment configuration files this does not work.

 Complex assignment of Shortcuts per user group

Example; there is an application that contains 3 shortcuts:

1) Application

2) Application License Manager

3) Application Configuration Manager

If you want to assign one shortcut to a group of users you could copy the User Configuration, remove the other two shortcuts and assign the User Configuration to the group. But if you add a user to two groups, for example the Application and Application License Manager group, he also gets the Application Configuration Manager shortcut because App-V cannot merge the User Configuration.

This is a simple example but with more complex application with many shortcuts it’s complex to manage the group membership and prevent users from getting to many shortcuts.

There is no progress bar if you use streaming preperation (feature blocks)

No one likes to wait, so displaying a progress bar gives you at least an indication how long you must wait and that the system is doing something.

9-12-2013 15-30-11

But there is no progress bar unless you select this checkbox during sequencing:

9-12-2013 15-25-05

And if you do, you cannot use streaming preperation or feature blocks.

Conclusion; there is still work to do to make App-V 5 the virtualization solution enterprise customers can trust and use to generate a high degree of virtualized applications. I will update this article if I found more challenges.

No Delegation-of-Control within the Management console

It is not possible to assign permissions to user groups or users within the Management console.

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