MSIX: The platform for all Windows applications
As you might know Windows 10 includes an application platform called the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), UWP applications run inside a container and as the term universal implies the goal is to make them run on every Windows platform\device available and to distribute them by using the Windows Store. UWP also comes with a set of API’s to integrate with functionality like live tiles. The file format used by UWP is APPX and software vendors can adopt this format directly or convert their applications to the APPX format by making use of the Desktop Bridge conversion tool.
Sounds clear right? For consumer applications it does but the reality is that there are a huge amount of traditional applications out there and they all have their own unique configuration and requirements. With configuration I mean integrations with the OS, integrations with Office, their own update mechanisms, etc. They often release their software by using MSI files to modify this properties. While software vendors often develop against the latest frameworks they don’t necessarily have UWP and Windows Store integration high on their list.
For a lot of vendors this will not change any time soon and luckily Microsoft is aware of that. That’s why they came up with a new application format called MSIX.
MSIX is the successor of the APPX format and the MSI format, MSIX will close the gap between traditional applications and UWP applications by making them both part of the same platform. Clever idea, because when software vendors are leveraging the latest frameworks but don’t use the UWP integrations that doesn’t make them legacy or obsolete. Far from that, they are often the most sophisticated applications with years of development inside. So at the end they are all Windows applications and now fall under one umbrella called the MSIX platform.
Traditional applications are often installed by using MSI files provided by the software vendor, this file format contains the application files and installation properties. This properties can be modified depending on specific needs. While MSIX is different, it has some of the same characteristics as MSI like a method to do customizations.
- MSIX is the successor of APPX and inherits all of its features
- MSIX is the successor of MSI and it inherits features like custom customizations
- Customizations are separated in a different layer. This makes updates easier.
- It builds further on the container functionality inside the UWP platform, providing more security options to be compatible with more applications
- MSIX applications can be deployed from anywhere (when they are signed) not just the Windows Store
- MSIX will support all Windows applications
- MSIX is open source (GitHub link)
When you are using App-V 5 to deploy and manage traditional applications you are already ahead of the game, there are even similarities in the way the applications are running in their own sandbox. A smooth transition from the APPV format to MSIX will be very easy.
We are also looking to integrate the MSIX format in a future release of App-V Scheduler to accommodate a real-time delivery and management solution for both App-V and MSIX for both RDS and physical deployments.