Overview of using virtualization to deploy Office 2010


Applies to: Office 2010

Topic Last Modified: 2011-07-15

Learn what virtualization is, how you can use it in your organization, and which method and type can be implemented into your environment. For a visual representation of this information, see Virtualization Overview, Methods, and Models (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=168624).

Virtualization Overview - Model

In this article:

  • About virtualization

  • Virtualization types and technologies

  • Virtualization delivery methods

  • Virtualization changes and updates

  • Application virtualization client architecture

About virtualization

Virtualization is the capability to run an application or a computer in a virtual environment without affecting the components that already exist on that particular desktop or server. Virtualizing computing resources can be done in two ways:

  • Application virtualization   Application virtualization is where a software application is packaged to run in a self-contained, virtual environment that contains all the information that is needed to run the application on the client computer without installing the software application locally.

  • Desktop virtualization   Desktop virtualization is where the software application, operating system, and hardware configuration is packaged to run in a self-contained, virtual environment. When a layer is created between the hardware and the operating system that is being installed, you are able to run multiple operating systems with applications on a single computer.

Virtualization types and technologies

The enterprise can deploy with one virtual delivery method or it can have multiple virtual environments in combination with one another.

Desktop, Presentation, Application

The virtualization types and technologies that are available for client support are as follows:

  • Desktop   Desktop virtualization is any kind of technology that creates an additional isolated operating system environment on a standard desktop. Virtual PC is still very common to use for capturing an entire desktop, specific hardware components, or only the Users Profile and applying it to another device, desktop, or operating system. Virtual PC can create a primary system that has guest accounts for multiple operating system images that support legacy software without interrupting end-user functionality with upgrades to newer released versions of applications or application compatible issues. For more information, see Windows Virtual PC (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156041).

  • Presentation   Presentation virtualization involves separating user profiles, with the data and application settings, from the user’s computer. The key to enabling this is Remote Desktop Services (formerly known as Terminal Services), one of the core virtualization technologies available in Windows Server 2008. Presentation mode is typically for thin client connections or multiuser applications, where any application combination, or virtualized desktop environment that uses both the operating system and an application, is run in one location while having it controlled in another. Remote Desktop Services presents each user with screen images that can be individual applications or entire desktops, while the user’s computer sends keystrokes and mouse movements back to the server. For more information, see Select Desktop or Presentation Virtualization (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156042).

  • Application   Application virtualization enables you to virtualize individual applications, plug-ins, upgrades, and updates, and then stream them to a client computer in chunks for faster availability. For remote users, such as consultants or users traveling with portable computers, application virtualization can be “packaged” as an *.msi to distribute via a USB drive, CD, or file server. For more information, see Choose Application or Desktop Virtualization (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156043).

Each of these methods of virtualization keeps the application in its own protected environment.

There are also the server-side virtualization types (Hyper-V and Virtual Server), which are not discussed in this article. For more information about server-side virtualization types, see the following articles:

Application Virtualization

Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) is an enterprise-level application virtualization solution and is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). App-V enables applications to run on a single instance of the operating system, turning applications into centrally managed services that are never installed, that never conflict, and that are streamed on-demand to end-users. App-V supports legacy applications and their extension points, whereas virtualized applications will not conflict with one another, do not affect the system, can be completely removed, and easily repaired or upgraded.

App-V is best used for applications that run on the current or target operating system, but have conflict issues either with other applications or some installed files. By decoupling the physical desktop from the software or hardware, you can create an isolated environment unseen by the end-user, and then run an application by using a desktop computer or server that has Remote Desktop Services (formerly known as Terminal Services) enabled without ever installing the application on the client operating system.

Microsoft Office 2010 includes the traditional Setup.exe method of deployment, and also supports delivery through virtualization via streaming or deploying Office applications to the end-user without the need of a CD or Setup.exe file.

For applications that cannot be run on the operating system and need an older version of the operating system, see Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156031), which is a component of MDOP (see Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156032). MED-V enables you to deploy applications by using the Virtual PC tool.

To use Microsoft Application Virtualization in the enterprise, Office 2010 will require the Application Virtualization Desktop Client (Deployment Kit) configured on each device.

For more information about virtual environments, see About Virtual Environments (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156039).

Virtualization delivery methods

Delivery of Microsoft Office 2010 can be done via several delivery methods.

For information about computer or server virtualization, see the following resources:

Delivery methods

Within each kind of virtualization, there is a delivery method that provides a virtual environment to the desktop.

For a visual representation of delivery methods, see Virtualization Overview, Methods, and Models (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=168624).

Virtualization - Delivery Methods - Model

Delivery methods for virtualization are as follows:

  • Presentation delivery   Enables a virtualized application to be accessed via Remote Desktop Services from a desktop computer. Applications are run from one central server location that provides screen images of the application or a desktop and are controlled by the desktop.

    For more information about Remote Desktop Services (formerly known as Terminal Services) presentation virtualization, see Remote Desktop Services (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156050).

  • Streaming delivery   Application virtualization is the process where a software application is “packaged” and stored on a file server, application server, or alternative source drive, such as in Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 and delivered in small sequenced bundles as needed. For more information, see System Center Configuration Manager (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156051).

    When end-users open a document that is running the virtual application for the first time, a quick scroll bar is displayed that shows what percentage of the virtual application has streamed to their computer. The application will load so that end-users can start their work. If there are features that the end-user needs that were not in the initial feature block, the rest of the application will stream in the background, into their local cache.

    A sequenced package contains several files. This includes one .sft file, one .sprj file, one Manifest.xml file, and then several .osd and .ico files.

    • The .sft file contains all the application files that contain all assets and state organized into streamable feature blocks.

    • The .osd file contains the description of the application, which includes environment dependencies, package location, shell integration, and scripts.

    • The .ico file contains the icons associated with each shortcut or file type association (FTA) defined in an .osd file or the Manifest.xml file. These are extracted from application resources.

    • The .sprj file is the sequencing project file that references the .osd default package setting list of all parser items, classifications, and exclusions.

    • The Manifest.xml file, which publishes parameters for the applications in a package, includes the definition of shell integration (for example, FTAs, shortcuts, Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE), and so on).

  • Stand-alone delivery   The process where a software application is “packaged” and delivered via CD, USB drive, and so on, to be stored locally on the users cached drive for full access when they are disconnected from the network.

    For a visual representation of the stand-alone delivery method for mobile users, see Virtualization Overview, Methods, and Models (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=168624).

    Virtualization - Stand-alone Architecture - Model

When you create a stand-alone package, an additional file is added to the package. The .msi file is created to publish and load (“install”) the virtual application package in a stand-alone environment.

Virtualization changes and updates

Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V), formerly known as Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization, provides access to centralized policy-based management, which enables administrators to add or remove access to any given application regardless of its location (for example, desktop, portable computer, or offline users).

App-V includes integration with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, which can enable deployments of App-V applications from Configuration Manager 2007.

For more information about the major highlights in App-V and new features, see Application Virtualization Overview (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156034).

Enhancements from SoftGrid

The following table lists some of the improvements in App-V. For a detailed list of the improvements, see Microsoft Application Virtualization - New Features (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156036).

New feature Supported in App-V 4.x

Virtualized Windows Services


Enables users to virtualize all aspects of any Windows-based application.

Virtualized Transactional User Profiles


Reduces the size of Windows profiles while enabling seamless roaming between computers.

End-User Pre-Caching


Enables users to initiate precached applications for offline use.

Batch Sequencing


Enables “sequence once, run anywhere” on multiple Windows operating systems, reducing the work required to virtualize applications.

Licensing Model

Enables central licensing with the added Security Protection Platform (SPP).

Support for Windows 7

Yes (App-V 4.5).

Support for Office 2010

Yes (App-V 4.6) x86, and for x64 Office or x86 deployments to x64 computers (under WoW64).

Active Updates


Updates an application version without having to disconnect the user.

SharePoint and Outlook Fast Search


Access Control


Controls access to applications that were only pre-authorized by IT, even in offline mode.

Application virtualization client architecture

Depending on the needs of your organization, combining virtualization technologies is possible. Determine what you must have based on the virtualization characteristics for your situation. For more information, see Combining Virtualization Technologies (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=156054).

Virtualizing an application puts a layer between the operating system and the application itself. This provides the following benefits:

  • More flexibility in running applications, which in the past might have had conflicts with other applications.

  • Applications can be installed and removed more easily, because they are not affecting any of the local files on the desktop.

  • Less regression testing.

  • More customization on deployment of applications.

When an application is published on a local client computer, the application remains in a virtual environment. However, it is executed locally by using local resources. Even though the application is in a virtual environment, it is still able to interact with other locally installed programs.

The virtual environment for each application contains the registry settings and .ini files, .dll files, and the Group Policy settings file. The application reads from and writes to this virtual environment without affecting any of those settings on the local client computer. The only items that the App-V–enabled application will read from and write to outside its space are the System Services (for example, cut-and-paste, OLE, and printers) and the Profile Data. The local system files (for example, registry, .ini, and .dll) will only be read when it is necessary.