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Microsoft's application virtualization software - App-V - has been updated to fully support the up-coming next edition of Office.

On Monday, the company delivered App-V 4.6, the first release of its application virtualization software engineered - it claimed - to work closely with Office. App-V is a component of Microsoft's Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP).

App-V 4.6 is integrated with SharePoint, which previously ran outside virtualized instances of Office 2007 and 2003. Also improved is start-up time and performance of Office.

The change potentially makes it easier to test and rollout Office 2010, due later this year, using the suite's applications in a virtualized capacity instead of physically installing on each PC.

Microsoft hopes that by improving the virtualized Office 2010 experience, it can ease and speed rollout and adoption of the suite.

A major sticking point of Office rollouts in the past has been that customers tend to stick with their existing suite, because they've already got the features they need.

Running Office 2010 as a virtualized application potentially business users can try the suite on their PC while also running the full version of their existing copy of Office 2007 or 2003. Also, application clashes are avoided.

"From an end-user perspective, is makes it much, much easier to roll out and add more users," Windows director Scott Woodgate said.

Other changes to App-V include the creation of a shared cache that all virtualized applications would use instead of applications running their own, individual cache. The shared cache is designed to reduce the amount of memory consumed on the desktop, improve management and help save money on buying more storage area networks.

Meanwhile, App-V 4.6 has been extended to run 64-bit applications in addition to 32-bit applications running on 64- and 32-bit operating systems.

Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), also part of MDOP, has been updated with early code support for Windows, 7, released in October. On Monday, Microsoft released the MED-V Service Pack 1.0 Release Candidate, which potentially lets you run Widows 7 as a virtual operating system on a machine already running an older operating such as Windows XP. Final release is due in April. ®

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