Browsing files in the virtual environment

Hi there. Recently I explained our trainee how App-V and in general how Application Virtualization works. I showed him how App-V isolates the registry keys by opening a cmd.exe in the virtualized environment (see my previous post for how to do that) and then running regedit. There you can see the native and the virtualized registry keys. You can see the example with a virtualized 7-zip. On the left screen shot you can see that the 7-zip registry exists. On the right screen shot you don’t see the 7-Zip key. This one was done in the native registry.

Registry-in-bubble Registry-native

So to summarize: Whenever you open the registry within the virtual environment, you can see all the virtualized registry keys. If you open the native registry (means not in the virtualized environment), you don’t see the virtualized keys. So good so far, everything the way we expected it. Now let’s move over to the file system browsing. I take again the example of a virtualized 7-zip. I have installed 7-zip as x86 version under C:\Program Files (x86)\7-zip. BTW – this was also the Primary Virtual Application Directory (PVAD) that you have to enter during the sequencing process. Microsoft recommends to set this path the the installation directory of the application. So I did set it to C:\Program Files (x86)\7-zip. So now the big baaaang, if you browse the C:\Program Files (x86)\ directory, you won’t find the 7-zip folder:

7zip-dir1

I was confused, I believed that I will be able to browse the 7-zip program folder. So what’s going on? I tried to open the directory by cd 7-zip and that worked!

7zip-dir2

Obviously Microsoft hides the folder you define as the PVAD during the sequencing process. And there is no chance, I have disabled all settings that might hide files and folders. Why is Microsoft doing that? I don’t know, I will try to find it out.

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