Installing Microsoft Application Virtualization (Part 1)

If you would like to read the next part in this article series please go to Installing Microsoft Application Virtualization (Part 2).


When Microsoft acquired SoftGrid in January 2007, App-V 4.5 was the first version fully branded under the Microsoft umbrella. The most notable change that was made is, logically, the new name. After some other names like Microsoft Application Virtualization (you will find this name when researching the product) the final name became App-V (based on Microsoft hypervisor Hyper-V). You will also see the name System Centre Application Virtualization Management Server for this product.

Beside the name change, several new features introduced such as Dynamic Suite Composition and the Lightweight Streaming Server. This article will not go into the details of these new features since we are not interested in producing a step by step installation guide of App-V in this article.

The installation of the App-V architecture is composed of three components:

  • App-V Server

  • App-V Client

  • App-V Sequencer

Installation App-V Server

Before starting the installation of the App-V Server component you need to decide if you will be using the full App-V environment or the streaming option only. The full App-V environment is exactly the same as the previous SoftGrid version, most importantly, in terms of its database and the full management console. The management console provides you with options which include the assignment of applications to users based on group membership and software license metering. The Streaming only arranges that the sequences can be started using the client, but you should arrange via other software products or scripts authorization (by default everyone can start the applications using the streaming only feature), adding the application shortcuts to the end user and the software licensing part. It depends on several factors which option you choose in your infrastructure. In this article I will describe the installation of the full environment option.

The software installation will be started using the delivered setup.exe. For the full environment you need to start this executable out of the management installation folder. For the streaming part you should start the same named executable in the streaming folder.

Microsoft is (logically) using the MSI installer for the installation of the App-V product. The first window is the welcome message with information about the installation. Nothing interested is mentioned here so we will quickly continue with the next steps.

Figure 1

Of course there is also a license agreement that should be accepted before the installation can be carried out.

Figure 2

In the next screen the user name and organization information need to filled in.

Figure 3

In the Setup Type Window the option appears to select the installation methodology. I select the custom option to show all the possibilities and explain what do these options mean in your infrastructure.

Figure 4

Because of the custom setup the available installations options appear. The first App Virt Management Server is the actually streaming component. This component is serving the client resquest to streamed applications. This component requires MS Core XML Services 6 to be installed on the server.
The second option is the Management Console of the suit. The console makes a connection with the App Virt Management Service.
This is the third option. This is a web services based component. To install this option you need Internet Information Services and .Net Framework 2.0

You can install the components on one server or on separated servers. For example the Management Service on an existing IIS server and the console on a special management server. For the article I will install all components on the same server.

Figure 5

If you did not install the required supporting software the following screen will be displayed. You need to cancel the installation and install that software first.

Figure 6

As mentioned before the full App-V environment requires a database. The installation wizard automatically searches for available MS SQL servers and you need to choose on which server you would like to host the database.

Figure 7

Next you can use an existing database (if you have more than one App-V Server, I will discuss this later) or to create a new database. By default the database will be created using the default paths defined on the SQL server, but you can change that with the option “Use the following location when creating the database”.

Figure 8

If you would like to use the secure communication option available within App-V you need to have a server certificate installed before you start the installation. That certificate can be configure or App-V in the Connection Security Window. In this article I will not use secure connections and did not install a certificate.

Figure 9

By default App-V uses port 554 to stream the applications, but you have the possibility here to change the use a different port.

Figure 10

App-V has only one type of permission within the console. There is no delegation of control possible. You can only give a group Full Control within the App-V infrastructure. In this case I will give the administrator role to the Domain Admins.

Figure 11

Secondly you also need to specify which users are allowed to access the App-V infrastructure. This part only allows setup a connection to the server, but does not specify which applications the users can use. In this case I will use the Domain Users.

Figure 12

The next step is to specify the content path. This content path is the folder in which you will store the sequences so they can be streamed to the clients. If you change the default path you need to create the directory in advance. You can always change the path later in the console.

Figure 13

The installation wizard has now collected all the necessary information and will install the App-V server locally on the disks.

Figure 14

After all the installation the last Windows will appear mentioning that the installation is completed.

Figure 15

A restart is required before the App-V server can be used.

Figure 16

After the installation there are a few settings you should configure before starting to use the server. This can be accomplished by using the App-V Management Console. As mentioned before, this console can be installed on the same server or a separate machine. The shortcut to the console can be found within the Administrative Tools folder on the machine you installed the console. The first time you start the console you need to connect to the App-V server.

Figure 17

If the console and the web service are installed on the same server you use the localhost otherwise you have to fill in the server on which the App-V web service role installed. You can use your current credential or specify your special administrator account.

After logging on you need to specify some settings to finalize the installation and optimize the App-V server configuration.

The first step is to configure the Default Content Path which can be set within System Options below the web service server (the server you connect the management console to).

Figure 18

The second location you can choose some important options about the way memory and processor is being used on the App-V server. This should be configured on a per server basis within Server Groups – <Server Group Name> (default is Default Server Group).

  • Max Memory allocation
    The Max Memory Allocation option specifies how much memory the SoftGrid Streaming server can use for the SFT file cache to support user settings. The default value can be rather small for busy SoftGrid Streaming server systems. This value should be raised to the amount of RAM that is in the SoftGrid Streaming server minus the amount of RAM that is needed for Operating System and other components.
  • Warn Memory Allocation
    The Warn Memory Allocation value is the threshold where the server starts logging warings to the ‘sft-server.log’ file. This value is typically around 80% of the Max Memory Allocation value.
  • Max Block Size
    The Max Block Size depicts the size in kilobytes of the buffer in RAM to be used to cache the largest contiguous block of data from a SFT file for a user session. This value is ignored in Softgrid 4.0 and higher and above as the Max Block Size is dynamically determined based on information within the SFT file.
  • Number of Core Processes
    The number of core processes (default is 3) specifies the number of ‘SFTCore.exe’ processes that can run simultaneously on this server. Each process can handle up to 1.5GB of memory so in general there is no need to increase this number.
  • Max Chunk Size
    The Max Chunk Size specifies the size in kilobytes of the largest block of code in any SFT file that may be streamed from this SoftGrid Streaming Server. The default is 64KB and it is recommended to leave it like that.

Figure 19

At the default provider properties, also several settings can be set like the way of refreshing the client with the server and the authentication and logging information to your needs.

Figure 20

Now the App-V server is ready to stream applications. Remember that the default test application is configured to use secure streaming (via port 332), so if you choose to use the App-V infrastructure on the default port you should reconfigure the default test application or add your own sequenced application to the console.


In this first part article I described the necessary steps to install an App-V server. In the upcoming article the installation and basic configuration of the App-V Sequencer and the App-V (TS) Client will be described.

If you would like to read the next part in this article series please go to Installing Microsoft Application Virtualization (Part 2).

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