App-V has been the app packaging format of choice for many IT professionals for many years. It has also been in the twilight stages of its lifecycle for many years and originally had an end-of-life date set for earlier this year, 10 January 2023. That was extended by Microsoft, so you can still use the App-V format for the time being.
However, it is also important to develop and implement a strategy to move away from App-V ahead of the new end-of-life deadline.
Why is App-V being dropped by Microsoft, when is it being dropped, and what should you do next? We’ll answer all these questions and more in this blog.
What Was the Original End-of-Life Date for App-V and Why?
App-V was originally scheduled to end in January this year (2023). This is known as an end-of-life date and is one of the stages that Microsoft applies to a product’s lifecycle. The key stages for the App-V 5.1 product include:
- Release – 2015
- End of mainstream support – 9 January 2018
- Original end of extended support – 10 January 2023
- New end of extended support – 14 April 2026
What’s the Difference Between End of Mainstream Support and End of Extended Support?
The Mainstream Support phase of a Microsoft product starts on its release date and ends on the published End of Mainstream Support date. During this phase of a product’s lifecycle, Microsoft continues to develop the product, releasing new features as well as updates, fixes, and other support.
The Extended Support phase then kicks in and typically lasts several years. During this phase, Microsoft continues to support the product with updates and fixes, including security updates. However, no further development takes place, and no new features are released. Essentially, the product remains “as is”.
This is the stage we are in with App-V – specifically, App-V 5.1. The App-V client will continue to be available as standard on Windows 10/11, including Enterprise and Education editions (although it usually has to be enabled with Windows PowerShell or the Group Policy editor). You will also continue to receive security updates, non-security updates, fixes, and other support up until the Extended Support deadline. However, there will be no new features or functionality updates.
Why Did Microsoft Extend the Extended Support Phase of App-V?
The lifecycle of Microsoft products is policy-based, so Mainstream Support and Extended Support deadlines are typically determined by the release date of the product.
However, App-V is more than a standalone product, as it is also part of a suite of tools called Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack (MDOP). Other products in MDOP include:
- AGPM – Advanced Group Policy Management, a central archive of all Group Policy Object versions.
- DaRT – Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset, a tool for diagnosing and repairing computers with startup problems.
- MBAM – Microsoft BitLocker Administrator and Monitoring, an administrative interface for managing BitLocker Drive Encryption.
- UE-V – User Experience Virtualisation, a tool to centrally store and manage Windows and application settings that have been customised by users.
Each of the above products, in addition to App-V, was developed separately by Microsoft. This means they had their own release dates and, by extension, end-of-support dates. Under the original schedule, the individual products in MDOP were all ending on different dates between 2021 and 2026.
The differing deadlines presented headaches for IT administrators so Microsoft decided to standardise the products to a single date for end-of-life support. It chose the furthest away date, which is why End of Extended Support for App-V is now April 2026.
What Should You Do Now?
The ideal situation from Microsoft’s perspective is that App-V users should transition to the newer Microsoft MSIX format.
Microsoft released MSIX in 2018 as an improved alternative to its legacy application packaging formats, including App-V and MSI. However, App-V has remained popular in the intervening years, largely due to compatibility issues with MSIX. App-V is simply compatible with a larger percentage of applications.
Most in the industry expect Microsoft to continue improving MSIX and MSIX App Attach as the support deadline for App-V gets closer. There are also alternative app packaging formats available that also offer high compatibility rates and other features, including VMware App Volumes and Numecent Cloudpaging.
If you still rely on App-V for app packaging, you should start exploring alternative options that match your application estate. For many organisations, this will mean having a primary app packaging format and one or several backups.
Automation, Whatever the Format
Whatever direction you choose to take, Access Capture can automate almost all of your application discovery, packaging, testing, and publishing processes. Access Capture is compatible with App-V as well as MSIX, MSIX App Attach, App Volumes, and Cloudpaging.
Our expert team also has extensive experience working with the various available application formats as they apply to the modern corporate application landscape. As a result, we can provide support and guidance as you transition from App-V to an alternative format. Get in touch with us at Access IT Automation to arrange a consultation.
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