VMware ThinApp (formerly Thinstall) is an application virtualization and portable application creator suite by VMware that can package conventional applications so that they become portable applications. According to VMware, the product has a success rate of about 90-95% in packaging applications.
ThinApp (previously known as Thinstall) was originally developed by Jitit Inc. and was acquired by VMware on January 15, 2008. VMware later used the code name VMware Project North Star while the product was in beta. On June 10, 2008, VMware announced that the final name for the product was going to be VMware ThinApp. The trial version of Thinstall was initially available only to corporations, however VMware now offers a public trial version.
VMware ThinApp is an application virtualization solution. ThinApp is able to execute applications without them being installed in the traditional sense by virtualizing resources such as environment variables, files and Windows Registry keys. The virtual environment presented to the client is a merged view of the underlying physical and virtual resources, thereby allowing the virtualization layer to fool the application into thinking that it is running as if it were fully installed. ThinApp does not have any pre-installed components and does not require the installation of device drivers allowing applications to run from USB keys or network shares without ever requiring Administrator rights. ThinApp converts standard application installers such as .msi files into self-contained EXE files which includes everything required to run. Also it is able to scan a system before and after an application’s installation and create a portable executable based upon changes made to the systems files and registry. Unlike self-extracting ZIP files, ThinApp does not extract files to disk or require system registry changes in order to run applications. ThinApp supports all released Windows systems from Windows NT4, 2000, XP (64/32), Vista (64/32), Server 2003, Server 2008 (64), Server 2008 R2 (64), and Windows 7 (64/32)
Many Windows applications can be packaged and made portable with VMware ThinApp, with the following notable exceptions:
- Any software that installs and requires a device driver to function. Applications that use pre-installed device drivers can function without issues.
- Some software with copy protection based on hardware. ThinApp will virtualize some hardware properties such as harddrive serial numbers but applications that bind to things like ethernet MAC address or CPU-ID may not run when moved to another PC