VMware ThinApp 4.5 has added support for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows systems and made other modest improvements that make it worthy of consideration by IT administrators who want to ease migration to Windows 7, while still using applications that are certified for Windows XP, Vista or an earlier version of Windows.
While VMware ThinApp 4.5 is not radically different from its predecessor, the package format did change-in part to enable large .MSI (Microsoft Installer) files-and IT managers will need to convert applications that were prepared with the earlier ThinApp 4.0 version with a simple-to-use utility. ThinApp 4.5 isolates applications from the underlying operating system that reduces application conflict, while enabling a speed-up in the application deployment process by eliminating full-blown regression testing for applications that are already approved on older Windows operating systems.
The product has gained polish since I reviewed ThinApp 4.0 in late 2008, after the product was acquired by VMware. What hasn't changed is the price: ThinApp is still $5,000 and is also available in a bundle with VMware View Premier for $250 per concurrent user. ThinApp 4.5 became available on March 17.
ThinApp 4.5 and competitive products-including Microsoft's App-V and Symantec's Workspace Virtualization (formerly Altiris SVS)-differ from standard application packaging tools because they can stream an application package to a sandbox that is created on the target desktop system where the application executes without interfering with other programs that are already installed.
ThinApp performed its core application virtualization chores effectively, using an efficient application packaging mechanism and distribution system that make virtualized applications available to end users from a variety of traditional software distribution mechanisms, including tools that distribute an .MSI to a file share or from inside a VMware View environment. I used a file share in my tests to distribute Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007, WinZip and large (greater than 3GB) components that are part of Adobe's newly released Creative Suite 5 Master Collection.