Release: VMware ThinApp 4.5

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In perfect sync with the release of Citrix XenApp 6.0, VMware announces ThinApp 4.5, the application virtualization platform that acquired from Thinstall in January 2008.

After the acquisition VMware released only one major update for ThinApp: version 4.0, in July 2008.

Version 4.5 (238809) released today introduces a number of new features that the former CEO of Thinstall, Jonathan Clark, discusses in details on the corporate blog. The list includes:

  • Support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2
    Existing packages can be upgraded through a new Relink utility. Need to rebuild or repackage applications.
  • Support for MSI packages larger than 2GB without requiring multiple CAB files
  • Support for capturing on partially non-clear PCs (experimental)
    When installing an MSI based application ThinApp 4.5 can automatically detect files and registry entries that the application requires even if those entries already exists on the capture PC. This results in correct captures even in the case where some libraries are installed on the PC.
    VMware solution for detecting dependent registry keys and files is generic and should work with other libraries but at this point the company only tested the VMware Tools scenario and using a clean PC is still best practice.
  • Quality Reporting
    Virtualized applications can be configured to report anonymous information to VMware once every 10 days.
    This includes: application vendor, name and version; OS version; the number of time the application was executed and the number of crashes detected over time; total execution time of the application and more.
  • Journaling of Virtual file system meta data and virtual registry
    Actually introduced in ThinApp 4.0.4, VMware decided to unveil it with 4.5.
    The purpose of journaling is to support the ability to recover gracefully in the event disk writes are incomplete or the disk state becomes inconsistent when sets of disk writes are not flushed atomically.

The Quality Reporting feature is rather interesting. VMware says that its goal is to build a database of applications that work well on ThinApp and understand where to focus more their support effort. But the intelligence provided could be extremely useful well beyond that, considering that the company has started to make acquisitions in the application market.

ThinApp 4.5 also introduces a number of improvements in different areas, including:

  • I/O performance for VDI
  • Memory sharing for suites of applications and Terminal Server
  • Startup time
  • Application white listing