What is MSIX?

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 28, 2018

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.

But what is MSIX?

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.

The benefits of MSIX

MSIX offers several advantages over current app packing solutions according to Microsoft:

  • Predictable and safe deployment.
  • Clean removal without leftovers.
  • Disk space optimization techniques such as single instance storage of files.
  • Managed by Windows (install, update, remove).
  • Differential updates support to minimize network usage.
  • Tamper protection.

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.

What is MSIX?
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What is MSIX?
Microsoft plans to support the MSIX app packaging format from Windows 10 version 1809 on. Find out what MSIX is.
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  1. Shadess said on October 2, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    This should’ve been a thing for the release of Windows 8…

  2. ilev said on September 28, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    “Support for MSIX will be included in the coming October 2018 Update for Windows 10.”

    Why do I need this bloat on my Windows 10 PC with added services that run 24/7 and phone home ?

  3. Richard Sanchez said on September 28, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    I’m mister MSIX, look at me!

    1. Mortimer Smith said on September 29, 2018 at 1:31 am

      Aw geez, Rick

  4. Jeff said on September 28, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    The key words are: “does remove control over the updating process from users”. That seems to be going really well for Windows 10 updates so why not extend it to apps. Forced app updates wow

    1. CKing123 said on September 30, 2018 at 3:10 am

      Actually, it does support showing UI and requiring the user to click update OR have it automatically update. This is defined by the developer

    2. Emanon said on September 28, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      If you don’t work in cyber security your opinion is irrelevant, opinions of average users who are constantly exposed due to ignorance are irrelevant.
      Software updates, especially Windows should be forced due to negligence, only advanced users should have the power to stop them (and they do).

  5. klaas said on September 28, 2018 at 9:54 am

    > “Support for MSIX will be included in the coming October 2018 Update for Windows 10.”

    What about the older Windows versions, or this, like e.g. Office 2019, another case of Win 10 only?

    1. CKing123 said on September 30, 2018 at 3:09 am

      It is compatible all the way till Windows 7 (though it needs one of the Visual C++ update installed in Windows 7 for it to work.

    2. Arthur said on September 28, 2018 at 8:34 pm

      Support for Windows 7 was mentioned in the Build 2018 day 2 keynote. See 52:33 in the video below.



      https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/events/build/content/msix-inside-and-out-pptx (Slide 45)

      1. klaas said on September 29, 2018 at 7:28 am

        @Arthur: thanks for that :-)

    3. Martin Brinkmann said on September 28, 2018 at 10:15 am

      If support comes, it will be limited.

      1. klaas said on September 28, 2018 at 11:00 am

        Thanks Martin. The writing on the wall is becoming ever clearer: the home users/consumers market is not profitable (enough) & is being killed so M$ can ‘pivot’ completely to the business/corporate market.

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