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VMware ThinApp Release Candidate (RC) Release Notes (Build 3.396)

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Notes on VMware ThinApp RC

VMware is pleased to announce the RC revision of ThinApp. This release includes Application Link and Application Sync, as well as many additional improvements to the user interface and the core virtualization engine. We believe that ThinApp represents technology that, when released in final form at General Availability (GA), will provide customers a fundamentally better way to package applications.

With ThinApp technology, IT innovators can prepare their company to better address key application challenges including operating system migrations (to Windows XP, Vista, and others) while reducing application conflicts, deployment costs, and empowering a mobile workforce.  ThinApp creates portable applications that can be leveraged across a variety of operating systems (Windows NT, XP, Vista, 2000) and plug into a variety of deployment infrastructures (SMS, LANDesk, Citrix, BMC, and others).

The release notes cover the following topics:

Key Features and Enhancements

The following enhancements were added for RC (Build 3.396):

  • The default isolation mode was changed from WriteCopy to Merged.
  • Application Sync makes fewer web server round-trip queries after bandwidth optimizations were made.
  • User interface enhancements:
    • Added a screen to allow selection of the default file system isolation mode.
    • Removed advanced and less frequently used screens such as Application Sync.
  • To handle larger packages, VMware created a separate .dat data container when the estimated size of a data container is over 200MB. This resolves an issue in which Internet Explorer might not show icons for large executable files.
  • Added the package.ini option, VirtualComputerName. When enabled, this option provides an application with a fixed computer name. This setting is required for some configurations of SQL Server.
  • Added support for the SQL Server SQLWriter service.
  • ThinApp MSIs for package and build tools now install per-machine by default.
  • Added support for the following new file macros: %Temp%, %PrintHood%, %Internet Cache%, %Cookies%, %History%, %Program Files Common%, %Common Templates%, %Common Documents%, %Common AdminTools%, %AdminTools%, %Resources%, %Resources Localized%, %CDBurn Area%, %Profiles%. To prevent any backward compatibility issues, these macros are only available to applications captured using ThinApp 3.393 or higher. You can modify the CapturedUsingVersion parameter in your package.ini file for older captured packages to enable them to use newer macros.

The following new key features and enhancements were added for Beta 2 (Build 3.386):

  • Application Sync - This feature enables you to deploy ThinApp application updates. Application Sync automatically checks for and installs updates to your packaged applications. Updates might include changes such as a new version, service pack updates, or configuration changes in the package.ini file.
  • Application Link - Application Link enables you to establish a link between applications without having to encapsulate them into the same executable package. For example, you can establish a relationship between a deployed instance of Microsoft Office 2003 and a new Microsoft Office plug-in.
  • Support for VMware serial numbers.
  • Added logging support in the runtime environment to assist with troubleshooting.

Fixed Bugs

The following section contains bugs that were fixed for the RC release (Build 3.396):

  • Fixed a problem in which captured versions of the Java Runtime Environment did not work properly if a more recent version was present on the physical system.
  • Fixed a problem that was causing Log Monitor to fail.
  • Fixed a problem that was preventing Internet Explorer from launching with UAC enabled.
  • Fixed a problem in which virtual registry file size was growing each time an application ran. ThinApp now marks files and registry keys as deleted when they obscure existing system values.
  • Fixed an issue in which Internet Explorer could not create an embedded Excel object because of a bug in Excel’s COM object reference counting.
  • Fixed an issue in which Script Logic’s Desktop Authority injected DLL would crash during process shutdown on exit.
  • Fixed the default build.bat file so that it can be run from a network share.
  • Fixed an issue in which some printer drivers would not work by forcing  %systemsystem%\spool to use merged isolation by default.
  • Moved the snapshot.ini file outside the package so it can be inspected and modified. 
  • Added new exceptions to the capture exclude list including %Temp%, %SystemRoot%\ie7, and %SystemSystem%\dllcache.
  • Added ForcedWriteCopyLocations to the snapshot.ini file to automatically correct a problem in which Microsoft Office products would try to load a shared component that is a fully isolated location. This caused an MSI installer dialog box to appear.
  • Fixed issues in which shell folder short pathnames were not being mapped correctly on systems in which the long and short pathnames were the same.  For example, on Swedish PCs, “c:\programme” has the same long and short pathname.
  • Fixed an issue in which the only shortcut created was shown as "No plugins" when capturing Internet Explorer 7.
  • Fixed an issue in which Smartcards were not being detected by captured applications.
  • Fixed an issue in which Application Link did not support UNC paths for required and optional Application Link paths.
  • Fixed an issue in which the most recent versions of the QuickTime browser plug-in would not play video clips.

The following section contains bugs that were fixed for the Beta 2 release (Build 3.386):

  • MS-DOS and 64-bit child processes are created natively outside of a virtual environment (previous versions of ThinApp failed to create these processes). This resolves an issue in which a packaged application might not print on 64-bit systems.
  • Added the AllowUnsupportedExternalChildProcesses option under [BuildOptions] in the package.ini file. When set to 0, an attempt by the virtualized application to create a child MS-DOS or 64-bit process will fail. When set to non-zero (default), the process will be created natively outside of the virtual environment.
  • Resolved issues in which Sandboxes were stored to the root directory of mapped drives or UNC paths.
  • Application private font files are now stored in the cache directory instead of in the Sandbox. The cache directory is located in the %LocalAppData%\Thinapp directory. This reduces the amount of data transferred for roaming profiles. The ThinApp global cache is shared across multiple captured applications.
  • Implemented a fix for Cisco Security Agent that has a race condition that can cause an application failure when running under ThinApp.
  • Removed small compression. Because of licensing issues, small compression is no longer available. Packages that used small compression will switch to fast compression.
  • Fixed an issue in which Thinreg would sometimes fail to execute .vbs scripts when .vbs type association has been changed to notepad or other processes.
  • Fixed a problem that caused long delays in Vista-style open file dialogs when browsing to network shares.
  • Improved support for Internet Explorer 6.
  • Fixed a problem with clip art not showing up in Word 2007 on Vista.
  • Fixed a problem that occurred when opening Word and Excel attachments in Outlook 2007 in which a .vbs script was included.
  • Improved support for editing of OLE embedded objects.
  • Fixed a problem with memory-mapped files that caused Autodesk Revit 2008 to crash during startup.

Known Issues

The following are known issues for this RC release (Build 3.396):

  • Internet Explorer 6 does not build on Windows Vista.
  • Windows Office XP activation does not build on Windows 2003 and XP.
  • Insert Object does not work correctly in Microsoft Office for OLE objects. For example, importing an Excel object into Word does not work (it displays the installer dialog when used).
  • Thinreg currently does not support any customization of the file-type association commands when registering packages. For example, if an application registers a file type association as "viewer.exe /f %1," it will be registered as "viewer.exe %1."
  • Application Link will not recursively import dependencies. It only imports dependencies from those directly specified in the RequiredAppLinks and OptionalAppLinks fields of the package.ini file.
  • In-place updates do not work with Application Link packages. For example, you cannot place a .1, .2, etc., in the same directory as an Application Link package and have that version override the version request by the application.
  • If Application Sync is used to update an application that is being imported by another application through Application Link, the import operation will use the original application and not the updated version.
  • Application Sync can corrupt a client application if the application is modified twice on the server while being updated on the client.