Mirage application layering 4.0 vs. ThinApp 4.7 – the differences

With Horizon Mirage application layering and ThinApp VMware has now two options to deploy applications to endpoints. The big difference between both products is that ThinApp is an application virtualization solution and Mirage Application Layering is not.

While this is the main difference there are still many, many differences between both products in terms of functionality and deployment options. In the following table I tried summarizes most of the differences.

Functionality / Product Mirage application layering 4.0 ThinApp 4.7
Application isolation (running multiple version of the same application, prevent DLL conflicts, etc.) No Yes
OS independency (possibility to build a package on another OS version than it runs on) No Yes
Run different versions of the same application No, only if application supports this natively. Yes
Supports Internet Explorer virtualization / running multiple Version of IE No Yes
Supports application with (kernel) drivers Yes No
Supports applications with native shell extensions Yes No
Support for 64-bit applications Yes No
Require agent on the end point Yes No
Requires additional components on the end point Yes, Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 No
Endpoint is required to be managed by Mirage Yes No
Optimized deployment method for WAN environments Yes, dedupe, compression and so on No
Methods to deploy application updates Yes, create new applayer with newest application build. Yes, multiple options.
Change application after capturing No Yes
Deploy updates without user interruption Yes Yes
Application updates need reboot Yes No, but you need to restart the application for the update to be applied
Optimized deployment method for applicaliton updates for WAN environments Yes, dedupe, compression and so on Yes, when using AppSync (only block level delta are transfered)
Easy application rollback Yes Yes, but depends on the used update method
Easy application break fix Yes Yes, delete sandbox
User-based application deployment No Yes
Machine-based applicaton deployment Yes Yes
Restrict application access based on Active Directory groups No Yes
Sandboxes user settings No Yes
Run scripts on application start and stop? No Yes
Run script after application is deployed on the system? Yes No

This table only compares Mirage application layer version 4.0 and ThinApp version 4.7.x.

I hope this table may give you a better understanding on the differences between both products. If you found another point in which these products work or behave different you’re welcome to post a comment and I will update the table with your feedback.

If you want to learn more about Mirage application layering and ThinApp and how they compare please vote for our VMworld US 2013 session: 4863 Dare to compare: Mirage application layering and ThinApp

4 thoughts on “Mirage application layering 4.0 vs. ThinApp 4.7 – the differences

  1. I’d argue “Optimized deployment method for WAN environments” is actually yes for thinapp based on it’s compressed packages and streaming capabilities…

    The biggest detractor I have for Mirage is the fact that one MUST reboot to apply a new layer/application updates. Can you not add the capability to apply layers which don’t affect the kernel or core OS without a reboot? This would allow ThinApp and Mirage to work well together – Mirage could layer msi deployed thinapps onto desktops on the fly… Thinapp install never requires a reboot! Is this on the roadmap?


    1. Hi Brian,

      the compression capability may save space which of course would result in less bandwidth usage when transfered over WAN link but isn’t really an optimization for WAN environments. Mirage offers much more in terms of WAN optimization such as file- and bit-level deduplication, branch reflector and of course also compression. The streaming capabilities of ThinApp aren’t really design for WAN environments as they are based on the Microsoft SMB protocol and it is definitely not recommended using it in this manner.



  2. Another one: “Supports applications with native shell extensions” should be yes – You even mention this capability in your 4960 VMworld 2013 session description.


    1. Hello again,

      Mirage offers out of the box support for shell extensions while with ThinApp there is no official support for shell extensions. Still as you already mentioned it may be, depending on your application, possible to get some shell extensions to work but there is no guarantee.



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