MED-V (Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization)

For those of you unfamiliar with MED-V, it is Microsofts Desktop virtualization solution which is being used to enable a company to host incompatible applications for their target OS on a Virtual Machine with the applications desired OS running on it. So if you have an application that will not work on Windows 7 you could potentially have this hosted on a Windows XP Virtual Machine and just have the shortcuts published to the users Windows 7 work machine. I believe XP Mode which is freely available to Windows 7 users has probably been more widely used, currently, however this is not a scalable solution for an enterprise. The VM lives on the users machine and is called upon whenever the XP application is required to run on the users machine, that is how the XP Mode solution works.

The real advantage that MED-V has in my opinion is the possibility of IE (Internet Explorer) redirection. You can set up a list of websites for web applications or sites that will not work in the newer IE browsers, which is a pretty frequent complaint for companies as many rely on legacy sites for things such as pay roll or time keeping etc. In many cases the Vendors of their web apps may be out of business and the only solution is either continued support of the older browser or replacing the web app which in today’s climate may be a big ask.

From my experience so far working for many different clients, it seems as though MED-V has not been taken up in any major way. MED-V has been a subject of much debate between some of my colleagues and I. Now, I don’t see it as a product I would invest significantly in but if I was in a position in which I already had the server capacity and my MDOP licenses available without something like XenApp to fall back on, I would happily implement it into my environment. I do think that it should not be a solution long term, however, I would much rather use MED-V as a last resort. In fact, from discussing with customers who were interested in the product, most were more interested in it’s IE redirection capabilities over anything else.

My main work with MED-V has been for deploying a customers legacy web applications. MED-V worked seamlessly for me.  It looks just like VMware Thinapps solution in that when the user types in the URL which you have stored in a central file it’s intelligence will kick in and redirect to open with IE6. VMware Thinapps solution is also a nice solution and can offer a company which does not have the server capacity or desire to invest in said servers, the ability to to deploy an IE redirect technology in a more lightweight manner.

Of course MED-V also allows for other incompatible local applications to be run on a users Windows 7 machine. Although I haven’t had much experience with such applications, I have only deployed a handful. Mainly older Office applications. The infrastructure of MED-V is pretty simple and straight forward. A host server which can be running Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7, this is where the image repository and management software would typically sit. You can also manage the applications list for the IE redirect on the server. Your VM can be setup in Virtual PC as a VHD format. There is a configuration software ‘Workspace’ which is required to be installed on the VM to allow the VM to be communicated with by MED-V. Users also have the client installed on their machines which streams down the shortcuts to the applications as required and allows for the application to be used on the server seamlessly to the user as though it’s on their own machine. I’ve been through much much more painful setups! I’ve looked at MED-V, ThinApp and Browsium for IE6 compatibility solutions, I hope to go into these more in another post.

Rory Monaghan

Microsoft MVP in App-V.  Citrix CTA.  VMware vExpert.  Unidesk Certified Engineer.

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