Windows users and administrators come into contact with different types of methods to deploy or install applications on devices running Windows: from MSI and click-one installers to App-V and APPX.
Microsoft unveiled MSIX recently, a new solution that it hopes will be the new standard going forward.
According to Microsoft, MSIX includes the best bits of all packaging solutions that are in use today in the Windows ecosystem.
MSIX provides a cross-platform, down level compliant, enterprise class installer with benefits ranging from existing LOB apps, distribution through the Microsoft Store, Store for Business, or other custom distribution methods.
MSIX is an application packaging solution for Windows. At its core, an MSIX file is just a renamed zip archive that you can open in any compatible archiving software to see the content of the file or extract the data.
MSIX offers several advantages over current app packing solutions according to Microsoft:
Software updates are not centralized on Windows. While Windows Store apps do get updated through the Store, third-party software that is installed on the system is updated independently. It depends entirely on the developer if built-in updating is supported or if users or admins have to download and install updates manually on devices.
Some apps may include custom updating options that are built-in while others may not include any option to update the software directly.
MSIX hands over the updating process to the operating system which streamlines updating by making it more secure and reliable. The streamlining does remove control over the updating process from users, on the other hand.
The new format is also a replacement for existing container formats that allow developers to publish and distribute Win32 applications via Windows Store.
Microsoft revealed what is on the roadmap for MSIX going forward. Among the features mentioned are better integration with Intune and System Center ConfigMgr, and support for Win32 software that can't be converted using the Desktop App Converter at the time.
Support for MSIX will be included in the coming October 2018 Update for Windows 10. Microsoft released a preview version of the MSIX Packaging Tool on Windows Store that developers and users may download provided that they are in the Windows Insider Program and have a valid MSA alias.
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