MSIX Values: The Basics of MSIX

Introduction

We are pleased to announce a series of MSIX articles where you can find short and crisp information about MSIX as a deployment type and why you should care. Some articles will illustrate examples and take a deep dive into the technology.

Recap

MSIX was announced during Microsoft Build 2018 conference as the next generation deployment package. Ever since, there has been a lot of buzz on this format. After trying various formats over years, Microsoft seems to get most things right with technology which reflects in the heavy investment they are putting in this technology and rightly so. Why do I think so? Let’s look at the problems it’s trying to solve.

Need for a new deployment type

Typical deployment types like .exe or .msi or even App-V have some problem or the other.

Application Compatibility Issues – For years enterprises have been fighting the application compatibility battles. It has been a nightmare for IT Pros to test for compatibility whenever there is an org decision made, to move to the latest Windows platform. While Windows 10’s incremental updates solves this problem partially, it doesn’t eliminate it completely.

Unreliable Deployments – Different deployment types means different standards for each. Multiply that with the amount of software that gets installed and uninstalled daily. Some work, some don’t. Reaching out to the software vendor means more support costs.

Complicated Updates – Every software vendor has their own standard of publishing updates and delivering to end users. Some perform major upgrades, some minor. Some of them just want them to co-exist with an older version. If you are a software vendor or an IT Pro, you know what I’m talking about, unless you have a very established process of managing updates.

Winrot and DLL Hell – If you are a seasoned Windows user, chances are high that you heard about these terms. In very simple terms, Winrot refers to a degradation in OS performance caused by multiple software installing, uninstalling and leaving tons of useless junk behind, taking a huge toll on the machine performance.

DLL Hell refers to applications trying to overwrite each other’s shared DLLs causing either of them to break.

AppX limitations – While AppX looked promising, the technology was limited by the APIs that developers could exploit.

If these are not enough reasons for a super hero to rise, I don’t know what else is. That’s where MSIX emerges as the super package that comes to the rescue of ISVs and IT Pros at the same time.

How does MSIX fix these problems

By running apps in their own containers MSIX solves most of these problems. While application virtualization promised to do the same, MSIX makes it more appealing because it brings plenty other advantages.

Containerized Apps – which solves compatibility issues at one shot

Simplified Deployment – forget complex scripts or tables. Welcome to a declarative installation manifest

OS Managed – Installs, uninstalls and updates are all managed by the OS. Which means consistency across apps.

In addition to these, there are several other pros like network and storage optimization, file block level updates and others which I’ll cover in another article.

Stay tuned for more…

Other Resources

Official Microsoft Documentation on MSIX

Reliable MSIX Installers with InstallShield 2019

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