Microsoft UE-V (User Experience Virtualization)

What is Microsoft UE-V (User Experience Virtualization)?

Microsoft UE-V (User Experience Virtualization) is a tool that lets users move from one Windows device to another and maintain the same operating system and applications settings.

The goal of Microsoft UE-V is to provide end users with a consistent user experience no matter what Windows device they are working with. UE-V uses templates to specify the end user's settings it will save.

A template is an XML file that specifies where each setting is stored in the file system and in the registry. The template does not contain values for the settings or data; it only contains the locations of the settings Microsoft UE-V monitors and saves when the end user logs off. In addition, UE-V uses settings packages, which contain the actual setting values it will synchronize.

Important features of Microsoft UE-V

UE-V 2.x enables administrators to choose which applications and desktop settings they wish to synchronize across devices. They can synchronize these settings and applications to any compatible device users work with in the enterprise.

The 2.x release introduced the ability to create custom synchronization templates for third-party applications, enabling Microsoft UE-V to synchronize the settings for such applications across devices.

UE-V 2.x also automatically applies a user's settings to a new PC or to a device that IT or a user resets to its default settings.

Microsoft UE-V version history

Microsoft first released UE-V in 2012 as a part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack. In 2016, Microsoft released UE-V version 2.0. This release eliminated the client-side caching requirement and made it possible for Microsoft UE-V to synchronize apps -- if developers built them to use UE-V -- across devices. The 2.0 release also added support for linking Microsoft accounts to domain accounts and introduced the Company Settings Center.

Microsoft later released version 2.1 of UE-V. Version 2.1 was largely a bug fix release, but it added support for Microsoft Office settings as well as provided the ability to synchronize credentials and certificates across devices.

Version 2.1 Service Pack 1 (SP1) added support for Windows 10, roaming network printers and Microsoft Azure.

Key plug-ins and supporting software for Microsoft UE-V

Client support for UE-V is based on the use of the Microsoft UE-V agent, which runs locally on the device. The current agent version is 2.x. The agent is included with Windows 10 version 1607 and higher and is no longer included in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack. The agent is compatible with the following OSes:

  • Windows 7 SP1. 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the Ultimate, Enterprise and Professional editions.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. 64-bit versions of the Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter or Web editions.
  • Windows 8.1. 32-bit or 64-bit versions of the Enterprise or Pro editions.
  • Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. 64-bit versions of the Standard and Datacenter editions.
  • Windows 10 pre-1607. 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Enterprise or Pro editions.
  • Windows Server 2016. 64-bit versions of Standard or Datacenter editions.

Benefits and drawbacks of Microsoft UE-V

Microsoft designed UE-V as a replacement for roaming profiles, which Windows has supported since Windows NT. Because roaming profiles copy profile data to or from the user's computer each time the user logs on or off, they can be slow if a user has a large profile or if the user is working on a low-bandwidth connection.

Like roaming profiles, Microsoft UE-V enables users to have a similar experience across their devices without the inefficiencies of roaming profiles.

The primary drawback to using Microsoft UE-V is that because it is dependent on an agent, users cannot work with it on non-Windows OSes or on Windows OSes that are older than Windows 7 SP1. Microsoft UE-V also doesn't support some newer Windows OSes.

This was last updated in July 2023

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