What Is MSIX App Attach in Windows Virtual Desktop?

Microsoft is introducing MSIX app attach, a powerful new solution for admins to deal with Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) images and applications. Let us try to understand the application management services in a virtualized environment and how they are used in Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).

An application landscape that involves installing, running,

What Are the Challenges of Application Management?

Managing an application landscape that involves installing, running, and updating remotely is a time consuming and challenging task for admins.

Here are some challenges that admins have to deal with routinely.

  • Various applications come from different vendors, each with its own installation and updating rules.
  • Many applications are not designed to run on the background of a multi-user operating system (OS). They may require the manipulation of some registry settings, special permissions, or specific files in the user’s profile.

How Do Application Management Systems Work Currently?

Using golden images: Apps are installed in an image (golden image) and updated. Then the host pool or session collections are updated by deploying this golden image.

However, if different sets of users require different applications, you will need multiple such golden images with the compulsion to maintain, manage, and update them. This could be a major headache for large organizations.

Installing all applications in a single golden image: This uses the masking technology of FSLogix to hide/show different subsets to different user-groups as required. The drawback here is, the golden image could become extremely large to manage over a longer period.

Application Streaming: This is another common option that enables users to stream applications on demand. However, this requires the maintenance of application streaming infrastructure, and that could be a complicated process.

The new method of Application Management: MSIX app attach

MSIX, a relatively new technology for application management in WVD, is Microsoft’s new application packaging format that enables an application to be attached to any OS, like Profile Containers. MSIX maintains the existing application packages/files and at the same time brings modern packaging/deployment features.

MSIX packaging tool allows you to convert existing applications to MSIX packages. The tool helps to streamline the packaging experience.

When MSIX is launched, the application files are accessed from a virtual hard disk (VHD), and the user is not even aware that the application is remote because the app functions like any local application. Another advantage is that, if the device needs a reset or re-image, these applications will not require a re-installation.

App Attach registers the regular MSIX applications on a device instead of physical download and installation. The registration is almost immediate and enhances user experience.

MSIX app attach can be used on-premises, Azure, or AWS environment without any modification and is independent of the OS. Microsoft officially confirmed that Windows Virtual Desktop will be using the MSIX app attach as the native/default way of managing and provisioning applications within WVD.

With the growing interest for WVD plus many companies already using App-V or any other application management solution, the advantages of the MSIX App attach over the rest of the pack might make it extremely popular.

What Are the Advantages of MSIX App Attach?

MSIX app attach is now capable of managing application layering functions for which App-V was being used. Here are its advantages.

  • No need for special deployment servers.
  • The existing MSIX packages are sufficient without altering/repackaging.
  • There is no performance impact.
  • Can be used on-premises or Azure/AWS cloud independent of the underlying OS.
  • Will be functional in physical/virtual machines, single or multi-user environments.

The Future of App Management Technology

With Microsoft’s announcement that App-V would not see further development, MSIX app attach would become the standard app streaming/layering technology in Windows Virtual Desktop. Here is what the Microsoft official says:

“App-V is not under active development, but it is supported in Windows 10. We will work closely with our App-V customers to ensure that their requirements are met by the future of app deployment, MSIX in conjunction with SCCM/InTune” – Andrew Clinick, Microsoft.

To conclude, MSIX App attach is surely going to be a key driver and define how Microsoft will be evolving Windows in the domain of virtualization especially with its Windows DaaS.

For any of your Azure Virtual Desktop requirements or inquiry, contact Apps4Rent. With more than 15 years of experience in offering managed cloud solutions, we have served more than 10,000 customers. Contact 1-646-506-9354 at any time for our assistance.

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