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On the 8th of February 2013 the second European APPVUG event (2012 edition) was held again at the Microsoft NL Head Quarters in Amsterdam (Schiphol). This time I was only attending and as usual I wrote down my experiences of that day.

I was in a bit late at the location. So the first presentation of Falco Grafe called Under the hood of App-V 5 was already started. At that moment I "jumped in" the changes/improvements were mentioned like Office integration, Dynamic Suite Composotion, Client Operation Changes, Server Changes (management, publishment, deployment sub features cleary seperatated/RTSP(S) removed,only HTTP/SMB, but optimized FP1 still exits). Falco continued with the architecture/components involved (sequencer, package reposistory, streaming server, publishing server, management server, management database, client, reporting server and reporting database) mentioning the changes made to these components. Next topics were the (Application) Connection Groups, the successor of Dynamic Suite Composition (visible in the console, can be published [own identity]) and the new format of OSD (xml files, XML editor,Deployment Config + User Config]. The last topic Falco touched was migration to App-V 5. Package can be converted via PowerShell from 4.6 to 5.0, for the database information there is no migration tool (so import of packages is required), the user settings can not be migrated either (users lose their configuration), UEM products could be used for that (but there is no solution out yet), side-by-side application execution is possible (App-V 4.6 SP2 + App-V 5).


Next session was by Sebastian Gertner called How Microsoft supports App-V 5.0. Sebastian started explaining which support options are available and the support life cycles (App-V 4.6 SP1 and App-V 5 are the only one exported in the main stream support). Extended support is available for SoftGrid 4.2 and higher. Next the type of support engineers were discussed and the process of fixes and design changes. Sebastian also explained the SLA levels (premier, professional, premier mission critical and the response level). Next the support process is explained (information, data/logs/reproduction). Sebastian continued with the process around bugs, factors are impacts, workaround, risks, applicability, cost and opportunity. Also the releasecycle process was mentioned (hotfixes, cummulative updates, service pack and MDOP). Also other services are mentioned like workshops and reviews as a last topic.

After the break Ment v/d Plas presented Lessons learned from a production rollout. Ment started with explaining the situation of the customer and where they would like to go to. Key selling point to go to for App-V 5 (in stead of 4.6) are Reduced strorage impact (SCS), adopt the latest and greatest and avoid inevitable migration path. Ment continued with the design process (HA based on impact service disruption, amount of servers, location, DFSR, Load Balancer). Ment continued with the experiences of the sequencer/conversion (technically easy, conversation rating is between 70-90%, additional work may be required, what's up with the Virtual Directory). Ment stated that: splitting up the management and publisher server is a good way, techincal set-up is fairly easy, connection groups are centrally managed, publishing performance is an issue (start menu is not usable during this period), management server Web UI....well, shared content store rocks, group policy configuration highest in hierarchie, little things (why client management console, tray icon visibility is not adjustable, package source root behaviour is different, forceproxyautodetect no longer exists). The customer used several other products, Ment discussed the cooperation of those other products like AppSense (no real issues, disable shortcuts via option in the App-V Management console, additional exclusions in Personalization server). Ment ended with his recommandations (App-V 5 is solid future ready, new features are worth migrating for, impact primarily in package convertion).

Nicke Kallen was next with his session App-V 5 Updated best practise. Nicke started with some facts (new virtual extensions, config files, improved stability, no Windows XP, no size limit). Nicke Sequencing environment tips: sufficient hard drive space, Win 7 SP1 or higher, no RDS enabled, install all .Net Framework/VisualC++/F#/J#, no anti virus, no UAC (MS recommends UAC match target). Nicke recommends a workgroup if possible. Also Nicke uses repackage as a default, so you can use all the new features. Again know your applications is a key, other recommandations are expand installation-files, PVAD: Nicke breaked one app and could not find any performance degree. General best practices were next: no auto-update, no install on first use, configure your application, leverage prepare for streaming, do not define target system. Limitations are still there: No boot time services, no drivers, extract and deploy OS Components. 32bit on 32 bit OS sequencing to get it working on 32bit and 64bit (but limitations for virtual extensions). No start Java Apps within sequences, other situations start the app within the sequence process. Services should be edit in monitoring mode in App-V 5. Next topic was about updating applications discussing the advantages/challenges when choosing a new package, new version and leverage config files for small modifcations.

After the lunch Rodney Medina continued with Customizing App-V 5 packages. Rodney started with explaining how it worked in App-V 4.x (set environment variables, set registry information run scripts, troubleshooting SFFTRAY with /EXE), followed by the limitations (scripts are only launched when apps are launced, scripts run each time the app is launched, edit each OSD, no option to elevate user priviliges). Rodney continued with how it is done in App-V (*_DeploymentConfig.xml/*_UserConfig.xml, not automatically auto-used/loaded, after each modification import on Management Server). You can modify the follwing parts: shortcuts, file type associations, URL protocols, sofware clients [default programs], virtual registry, enable/disable features[com mode, object, fonts,envars] and scripts. Importing _DeploymentConfig.xml overwrites the default configuration, with no revert option, always keep the original _DeploymentConfig.xml. _UserConfig.xml can be reverted. Scripting functionality is disabled by default, enable via PowerShell or the Group Policy Template. Scriptmoments are:  startprocess/exitprocess, startvirtualenvironment/terminalvirtualenvironment, publishpackage/unpublishpackage, addpackage/removepackage including a detailed explanation how they work and how they can be added. Especially AddPackage/RemovePackage is powerful one. Runs in system context in a real world (can be used for installing drivers, middleware). Rodney showed the options in a demo. After the demo Rodney talked about /APPVVE. The easiest way to get in VE for troubleshooting, can be used directly to the executable you would like to start in the Virtual Environment. Rodney was mentioning two other parameters and a nice powershell script, which will be posted on his blog or the company website soon for more information.

Roel Beijnes was the next presenter with the presentation The Power of PowerShell with App-V 5. Roel started with mentioning that SFTTRAY/SFTMIME is not available. The PowerShell modules are installed by default. He quickly started showing the basic commands and how to get help/examples and mentioning some wrong examples/wrong commands in the documentation. He continued with the positioning of PowerShell in App-V 5 providing an overview where PowerShell is available. Last topic was on the package conversion with PowerShell with the modules AppVPkgConverter (x86 only, convert 4.5 to 5.0 package) and AppVSequencer (x86 and x64, create/update/expand App-V 5 package). The following parts are not done during conversion: empty directory, feature block, scripts and registry from OSD, dynamic suiting, no extention  points, configuration files are [logically] not converted). Only converts with Windows 7 and higher in the OSD file. Roel showed his PowerShell scripts he created for converting App-V sequences into App-V 5.0.

The latest session I attended was the Troubleshooting App-V 5 by Sebastian Gernert and Madeline Walraven. As App-V 5 is completely different also troubleshooting is done via another way. Madeline started with the App-V client problem scenarios: Application launch failure (subsystem fail to initialize, App-V services/drivers not running, issues with coexistence, connection group issues), Connection Group Issues (application do not interact as expected) [connection group published, conflicting/wrong priorities,group update pending/damaged group state), Coexistence problems (extension point ownership [client registry/deployment/xml/adm template], double hooking, incorrect configuration, package conversion). Next Madeline mentioned the troubleshooting methods and tools (process monitor/explorer, PowerShell cmdlets [PowerShell ISE], EventLog, Disabling Subsystems). Next was the App-V Sequencer troubleshooting. Shortly the files produced by the sequencer were described, also the files which are in the .APPV file (can be extracted to view, cannot be edited via this way). Also some tips were provided for troubleshooting the sequence. Because  Madeline run out of time show she skipped the Dynamic Configuration part, because Rodney already mentioned this in his presentation. She touched possible App-V server issues (publishing services issue, permissions issues [machine account]). Tools used for troubleshooting Fiddler, SilverLight Spy, SQL profiler and the event viewer). The session ended with some demos by Sebastian showing some current issues (copy programs out of the sequence package, no new apps because of the current account token).

After this session there was one more session Feed the Birds where all presenters will come on stag to answer questions out of the audiance. Summarized it was an good organized event with good sessions about App-V 5. Looking forward to the upcoming event in 2014.