Microsoft Softgrid: virtualization for applications

At Microsoft’s Heroes Happen Here launch, I caught up a little with something to which I’ve paid insufficient attention: Microsoft Softgrid, which is described as Application Virtualization. Softgrid is a way of packaging an application and its dependencies into an isolated bundle that runs on the client, but hardly touches the client environment. Each application has its own virtual registery, DLLs, COM DLLs, and even a virtual file system. As a consequence, it “just works”. It also lets you run otherwise incompatible applications side by side. For example, you could have an old Access 97 application, for which the developer left long ago and nobody dares to touch the code, and run it alongside Access 2007. This is apparently a huge hit for Microsoft, which does not surprise me as it solves all sorts of deployment problems. Unfortunately it’s not that easy to get Softgrid: you need to sign up for a thing called the Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance and it is hooked to other components of Microsoft’s enterprise server system:

I would like to see Softgrid’s technology also made available for more general use.

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