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Microsoft Virtualization Secrets by John Savill

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Third-Party User Profile Virtualization Solutions

It should be fairly clear that Roaming Profiles is a viable option in a single operating system, single concurrent logon environment. If your environment potentially requires multiple concurrent user logons and/or using different operating system versions and architectures, then the Roaming Profiles feature is extremely problematic. That’s primarily because Roaming Profiles, like Windows, treats the entire user registry area as a single replicated file, NTUSER.DAT, with no application-level granularity.

The top initiatives of many organizations today involve VDI, session virtualization, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and many more, all of which require users to log on to different devices and likely involve multiple logons at the same time. Roaming Profiles just doesn’t fit the bill. Fortunately, several third-party solutions have been designed to remedy the problems associated with Roaming Profiles.

Citrix has a basic solution as part of its session virtualization and VDI solutions that can help with some issues. However, the most powerful solutions are desktop virtualization products that focus purely on profile virtualization and the application-level granularity of settings, such as those from AppSense and RES Software. These solutions, which differ slightly in implementation, actually inject agents into the operating system that “hijack” an application or operating system component that tries to talk to the user’s profile. The ...

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