Stop the presses! Microsoft, that bastion of missed opportunities and marketing blunders, has finally announced an updated road map for App-V. Version 4.6, which is slated to appear as a new TAP (Technical Adopter Program) option on Microsoft Connect by April, brings Windows 7 compatibility and 64-bit client support to the company's much-maligned application virtualization platform.
Actually, you can get the Windows 7 support today in App-V 4.5 by downloading a recently announced compatibility patch. However, given the delay in producing both the patch and the forthcoming 64-bit support, I can't help but wonder if it isn't too little too late. While Microsoft was fiddling away deciding just what to do with App-V (and how it might fit into its hodgepodge of virtualization technologies that include Hyper-V and MED-V), its competitors were refining their offerings and, in many cases, leapfrogging the company on the technology front.
[ Related: APP-V, MED-V, and missed opportunities ]
It didn't have to be this way. When Microsoft acquired Softricity nearly three years ago, it inherited an application virtualization platform -- SoftGrid -- that was without equal. Competing technologies from Altiris and Thinstall were incomplete and lacked the strong back-end support that made SoftGrid so attractive.
At the time, I felt Microsoft had made a brilliant play, that the innovative SoftGrid virtualization technology would give the company a much-needed legacy emulation option and allow the Windows development team to finally break with the past in favor of a managed-code future.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to API nirvana: Windows Vista bombed. In the resulting panic, Microsoft seemingly forgot all about its application virtualization diamond in the rough, instead focusing on righting the listing Vista ship with Service Pack 1, and then later abandoning its sinking carcass in favor of the quick-fix follow-on now known as Windows 7.