All you need to know about MSIX

What is MSIX?

MSIX is the new Windows application packaging format that provides a modern packaging experience to all windows applications. The MSIX application packagepreserves the functionality of existing application packages and install files in addition to enabling new, modern packaging and deployment features.  

What are the benefits of MSIX?

MSIX Application Packaging can future proof your application estate and has several benefits which are outlined below:

Packaging existing Windows Applications: Utilising the industry standard tooling to create an MSIX package for any Windows application, old or new.  

Install MSIX Application Packages: Leverage Microsoft App Installer to install or update any MSIX application package that is locally available or on any content distribution network 

Apply run time fixes to packaged applications: The Package Support Framework is an open-source toolkit that enables you to apply fixes to existing desktop applications when you don’t have access to the source code, allowing it to run in a MSIX container.  

Use MSIX Anywhere: With the MSIX SDK, MSIX application packages are more flexible and platform independent. The SDK providers all of the APIs needed to verify, validate and unpack an application package on any platform, including native Windows 10 and non-Windows 10 platforms.  

Key Features of MSIX?

By unlocking MSIX applications, you will enable features like, MSI, appx and App-V and the following key features 

Reliability: MSIX provides a more reliable install rate, boasting a 99.96% success rate over millions of installs with a guaranteed uninstall. 

Network bandwidth optimization: MSIX decreases the impact to network bandwidth through downloading only the 64k block. This is done by leveraging the AppxBlockMap file contained in the MSIX application package. MSIX is designed for modern systems and the cloud. 

Disk space optimisation: With MSIX there is no duplication of files across apps and Windows manages the shared files across apps. The applications are still independent of each other so updates will not impact other applications that share the file. A clean uninstall is guaranteed even if the platform manages shared files across applications. 

How do you deploy MSIX?

MSIX packages can be delivered to client devices using device and application management tools such as Intune or SCCM.

Intune: Microsoft Intune supports the deployment of MSIX applications to client devices through the client app model. As MSIX is a standardised installation packaging format, the details regarding the application (Application Name, Description, and Publisher) are automatically populated within the application information. 

Installation of an MSIX application is highly standardised. When adding a new line-of-business application to Microsoft Intune, there is no requirement to configure the silent installation parameters required for install.  

SCCMAs MSIX is a standardised installation packaging format, the details regarding the application (Publisher, Application Name, and Version) will be automatically retrieved and presented for review through the create application wizard within Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager. Similarly, the install string and detection methods used with MSIX applications is consistent and automatically configured by the Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager create application wizard. 

Web (App Installer)MSIX can be deployed with an IIS server. If you add the ms-appinstaller protocol, it creates a much better install experience.

Microsoft Store for BusinessMicrosoft Store for Business is a store specifically designed for Business and Education application distribution. You can use Microsoft Store to find, acquire, distribute, and manage applications for your organisation or school. 

App Centre: App Center enables you to automatically build your application, test it on real devices, and distribute it to beta testers. App Center lets you ship applications more frequently, at higher-quality, and with greater confidence. With App Center you can connect your repo and within minutes automate your builds, test on real devices in the cloud, distribute applications to beta testers, and monitor real-world usage with crash and analytics data. 

What type of tooling do you need?

To package applications into MSIX format, you require specific packaging tooling to ensure the quality of the overall MSIX Application package. Microsoft offers a free MSIX Packaging Tool that offers a simplistic end-to-end workflow to take any Windows application, new or old and transform them into MSIX format.  

However, not all applications can be automatically converted into MSIX format easily, this is where the experience and expertise of Camwood Application Packages Services can assist with MSIX packaging any customer regardless of application package complexity. 

Looking to get started with MSIX? Get in touch with our team today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Daniel Williams
Daniel Williams is the Head of Technology at Camwood.
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