Last spring Microsoft released MSIX, an installation package format designed for application distribution, and with several features for running applications as well.

The idea is that with MSIX you can standardize the installation package format, meaning for example setup.exe, MIS, Microsoft Application Virtualization also known as App-V, and ClickOnce components and distribution technologies.

MSIX standardizes application packaging at all stages, starting with application developers and ranging all the way to IT-admins. Creating packages and editing settings will be possible every step of the way during installation package processing.

According to the experts at Centero, the biggest problems at the moment tend to arise from the lack of a standardized model, and the huge variation it causes in application packaging procedures.

Professionals discussed MSIX at AppManagEvent

Centero’s top experts on application packaging, Aku Suonpää and Tero Laukkanen, participated in AppManagEvent, an event for application packaging and distribution professionals, organized in Utrecht, Netherlands on October 11th and 12th. MSIX was among the biggest topics at the event.

“At AppManagEvent we heard Microsoft’s introduction on MSIX, and there were presentations on product development plans as well. The discussion was about the current limitations of the MSIX format, and Microsoft was able to explain how they are planning to solve the problems. After this we went to hear what packaging tool developers like Flexera had to say about MSIX. They were extremely excited about the new technology, as Microsoft had invited them to join in on the development,” Aku Suonpää says.

One of the event’s speakers was Timothy Mangan, an App-V guru, who is one of the original App-V creators.

“Mangan’s point of view on MSIX format was rather critical. He saw MSIX as a step forward, as long as the current issues are dealt with in its product development. Timothy Mangan said he had done extensive testing on MSIX technology with several applications, such as the VLC player, and realized there is still a lot to be done,” Suonpää explains.

Increased reliability with standardized practices

Although MSIX’s product development is still in its early stages, it’s already supported by Windows 10’s version 1809. Centero’s Aku Suonpää sees plenty of benefits in MSIX. According to Suonpää, MSIX’s success depends largely on software vendors.

“Future will show whether software vendors will embrace MSIX or not. From the point of view of third-party application vendors, the most challenging part here is that MSIX by default takes a stand on what an application can and cannot do on a work station – a feature not all vendors are happy with. For example, if an application needs a device driver to work properly, at the moment MSIX doesn’t allow it,” Aku Suonpää says.

“As MSIX standardizes the applications’ installation packages, the distribution process will eventually be more reliable and of higher quality. Current plan is that MSIX will support all different distribution methods, like distribution through Microsoft Intune, SCCM, and Microsoft Store,” he continues.

MSIX already included in CSM product development

IT-departments might already be wondering how MSIX technology is going to affect organizations’ application update management.

At Centero, the overall attitude towards MSIX is positive.

“Although the transition to MSIX is still a thing of the future, we encourage our clients to take a look at the technology. However, we recommend to keep using the current technologies, as the existing solutions will work just fine for several more years. It’s likely that the App-V technology will be replaced, but it won’t be until the 2020’s”, Aku Suonpää says and continues:

“When it comes to Centero Software Manager, the planning has already begun. When MSIX is ready for production, it will likely be one of the future technologies CSM (Centero Software Manager) will support. If any questions about MSIX arise at this point, it’s a good idea to contact us. We follow the international discussion on current issues on application packaging, and we are happy to converse on the topic. MSIX will be included in Centero’s App-V course, which is a great way to get plenty of relevant and actual info on the theme.”

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New reliability to distribution practices with MSIX format

 

  • Information security
    • MSIX package needs to be signed with target device’s trusted certificate
  • Life-cycle management
    • Standardized application life-cycle management
      • Installation, updates, uninstallation
    • Editing ready packages with a separate editing package
      • Comparable to MST-file of MSI technology, but installation after installment is possible.
    • Isolating the application from operating system and other applications
  • Operating system integration
    • Possibility to configure the installed language version according to the operating system’s country settings
    • Compatible with the Windows 10 Start-menu functionalities
  • Diverse support to different distribution channels.