With Cloudhouse MSIX is now for IT Pros too

Cloudhouse are pleased to announce support for Microsoft’s new MSIX format – announced as part of the Windows Spring Creators Update – it is the best of MSI and APPX formats. In time, it will become the go to format for application developers creating installers. This blog cover the benefits of this new format, and what it means for developers and how Cloudhouse enable IT Pros to start using it immediately for their existing Win XP, Win 7 and Win 10 applications.

Microsoft announce MSIX – what is it?

With the release of Windows Spring Creators Update, Microsoft announced a new packaging format MSIX – we like the pronunciation “M6” but MS are going for “M-S-I-X”. In this blog, I will cover the benefits of this new format, and what it means for developers and how even IT Pros can use it for their existing application estate.

This new format will replace MSI as the new go to format for developers creating installers for their applications, and App-V as the default choice for IT Pros and packaging teams. Expect to see all the major installer vendors follow the launch partner’s lead, AdvancedInstaller, and announce support. For AppX, which in terms of adoption is still in its infancy, the format is very close to MSIX so there will be little if any effort to make the switch.

But wait, what’s all this AppX/UWP and Desktop Bridge thing?

The headline news is that AppX provides cross device platform support for all Win 10 devices from Hololens to Surface Hub, an automated update mechanism, a security model for apps that is “secure by design” and clean uninstall – think simplicity of mobile apps for Windows apps. To find out more, check out our blog.

“With MSIX being the new thing, will the Desktop Bridge go away”?

In case you didn’t catch the announcement, or don’t want to watch the whole 1hr 30 mins, here is a quick run down of the highlights with some key quotes from Microsoft’s Kevin Gallow, Corporate VP of Windows Developer Platform.

“[MSIX] brings together Desktop Bridge, what we had in AppX, what we had in App-V, and MSI. So, there are several of these technologies for installing and providing containerisation this [MSIX] in essence brings them together and gives you a superset of the functionality. So, does it go away, well it sort of graduates.”

So is MSIX the new way of doing installation & packaging?

“…it progresses AppX, adding new features; app virtualization, better containerization, app feature customization so it became more than just a package format, really becomes a full container. So we were thinking we should really give this thing a new name, and talk about this containerization we are building… think of it as an analogue for docker for deploying server workloads but for client workloads – MSIX provides containerization, deployment, updates and supersedes desktop app converter”

For developers, the real big deal for application security is that is builds on the isolation and security restrictions available in the APPX format – applications will no longer have the full trust to your whole system, which was typical for your traditional win32 app. Microsoft is pushing to make applications secure by design and reduce the risk of your app, or a bug in your app, being used to compromise the whole system. Developers will of course be able to request an exemption in cases where they genuinely require system level capabilities, but this broad access is off by default. In cases were Full Trust is required, MS will run additional checks when the application is sent to the Store for publishing. The pains of tidy install/uninstall and challenges around intra-app compatibility are all managed cleanly by the install rules and isolation that AppX introduced

“It is the best of Appx & MSI in one”

And offers developers

  • All the features, and benefits of UWP.
  • Supports application customization (missing from AppX, App-V and MSI).
  • Improved security options, primarily from AppX’s improved isolation and containerization over AppV.
  • Supports all Windows applications under active development.
  • Install from web sites (replaces ClickOnce’s capabilities)

Modernizing your business applications

Microsoft made the Desktop App Converter tool available (aka Desktop Bridge) available to convert MSI/exe-based applications to Appx for Developers; it was not aimed at IT Pros because it lacked a UI and support for any app that didn’t already run on Win 10.

Cloudhouse has been at the forefront of enabling app to OS compatibility for install exes, MSIs, AppV technologies which is why last year we announced support for support for Desktop App Converter – to help IT Pros take their Win XP and 7 apps to Win 10 with our Containers, and then simplify the transition to Appx by helping applications overcame some of the limitations and restrictions of UWP’s AppX format. As a result, Microsoft listed us as the only vendor solution for XP, Win 7 and Win 10 applications to move to AppX and clear the strict rules for Store for Business.

Cloudhouse Containers support MSIX

With the release of MSIX, Cloudhouse are pleased to announce continued support for Microsoft’s packaging technologies, enabling IT Pros to easily adopt all the new features of MSIX without any code changes by

  1. Taking their existing applications from Windows XP, 7 to Windows 10
  2. Resolve the app’s incompatibilities with MSIX and ensuring it behaves as expected by the new platform

Which results in a modern application portfolio that has

  • All the features, and benefits of UWP.
  • Supports application customization (missing from AppX).
  • Improved container security options, comes from AppX’s improved isolation and containerization over AppV.
  • Supports all Windows applications.
  • Install from web sites (Click Once).

Compatibility for MSIX

Here is a quick rundown on how Cloudhouse can turn your traditional line of business apps, into modern apps for modern platforms and management tools without any development effort.

MSIX Limitation / Restriction  Container resolves for the App
Only supports .NET 4.6.1 Just include the required version in the Container
App always runs with elevated security privileges Use  Least Privilege  Compatibility
App requires a kernel-mode driver or a Windows service Enabling Services, script the install of drivers
App’s modules are loaded in-process and need to be accessed by processes that are not in your Windows MSIX. Include both apps in the Container
App modifies the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (HKLM) registry hive. Containers will translate the applications behaviour to this by default (/deploytype user)
App writes to the AppData folder with the intention of sharing data with another app Add a custom redirection
App writes to the install directory for your app. Add a custom redirection
App installation requires user interaction Auto Packager creates a silent install for the app
App uses the Current Working Directory. Add custom redirection
App installs and loads assemblies from the Windows side-by-side folder. Enable SxS
App uses a dependency in the System32/SysWOW64 folder. By default


Cloudhouse joins G-Cloud 12

Moving the UK public sector to the cloud just got a whole lot easier. Cloudhouse application compatibility packaging is now available from the G Cloud 12 Digital Marketplace.

Migrate ALL applications to Amazon AppStream 2.0 and AWS WorkSpaces

Migrate ALL your desktop applications to Amazon Workspaces or Amazon AppStream 2.0 with Cloudhouse.

The Magic of Compound Application Virtualization

I am Priya Saxena, a supermom, virtualization enthusiast and a developer by heart. I started my career 11 years ago as a passionate engineering graduate