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App Volumes – Microsoft restriction an example

Recently I was involved in a project for best practices regarding VMware App Volumes and how to virtualize applications and handle it.

Well, App Volumes is a great solution if it comes to customizing a stateless virtual desktop system like Windows 10. You can do a lot like switching application packages which are assigned to a user or add some new one. Application lifecycle is also possible, here you need a clear understanding of application lifecycle, update processes and CI / CD.


Of course the product has limitations like every software. In this example we will talk about Microsoft Visual Studio Pro.

Microsoft Visual Studio Pro is not possible to distribute through an application virtualization software even not with Microsofts own App-V. Microsoft agreed to that and said it should be used in the context of Azure Cloud instead. Reason is, Visual Studio don´t support simultaneous users to use the Software on the same machine which is described in Microsofts article here shared virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and pooled Windows Virtual Desktops.

But why? Microsoft Visual Studio (Pro) requires a fully underlying Windows operating System (OS). If you use a application virtualization solution, that is not given.

What´s possible and how is the behaviour?

I´ve tested a lot around the possibilities of virtualize Microsoft Visual Studio because I want to understand if that is really not working and possible, and if so, what is the behaviour.

If you virtualize Visual Studio with App Volumes the process is straight forward. You create your capture machine (more details regarding best practices described here), install Visual Studio, capture it, package it and integrate it into the App Volumes environment.

Now you will assign the application to a user or group. Login to your Windows machine and start Visual Studio. In the GUI of the product you choose “Help” in the menu bar and then “About Microsoft Visual Studio” or alternately, you can click “Register Product”. Usually, the product will be licensed to the user. If it is installed on App Volumes App Stack, you will see messages like this.

“We could not download a license. Please check your network connection or proxy settings”. But there should be shown “This product is licensed to: username.

Another bad thing about that is, that you can´´t activate or register your license even not if you have one. I tried is several time but no chance. It seems that Microsoft discover some additional information during the register process to prevent that that kind of solutions will be used.

Important: One thing is the technically possible but the other, what is supported at the end by Microsoft. The virtualization of Microsoft Visual Studio with application virtualization software is not supported by Microsoft.

That being said, there would be maybe a chance to get that running technically but in the case of an issue and you need to get support by Microsoft, you will get in trouble. Be aware of that.

The solution

What can users or customers do which wants to use Microsoft Visual Studio in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

The solution is very simple, install it into the Golden Master Image of your VDI Pool. In the Master Image you have a full Windows Operating System under it and can distribute the software to as many user as you want. Of course, depending on your license agreement and purchased licenses. Additionally, you have to be aware of the maximums of your VDI products.

After a test in the Golden Master image and pooling of Instant Clones with VMware Horizon 7, it works perfectly. The product runs, is licensed and can be easily used.

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