MSIX - One installer for everything

Microsoft operating systems have a long history with Windows installers. The availability of various technologies, ranging from legacy to Windows Installer, Click-Once and App-V, challenged developers to package their applications for both legacy and modern environments.

With the rapid growth of endpoints such as tablets, mobile phones, game consoles and HoloLens, it is critical to unify the installation environment and provide a cross-platform solution that supports a wide range of applications and technologies.

At the Windows Developer Day in May and a few days later at Build 2018, Microsoft presented its future-oriented solution that combines old and new applications in a single installer: MSIX.

Based on the APPX Packaging Framework, which serves as a solid basis for containerization and, according to Microsoft, is trend-setting, the new MSIX format also offers the possibility of company-specific configurations. This is also reflected in the naming: MSIX = APPX + MSI. The technology is created in Windows 10 and is designed to combine the capabilities of MSI, App-V, and Click-Once.

The new format is expected to bring several advantages for both software developers and users:

  • Multiplatform format (non-Windows systems such as Mac, iOS, Android and Linux/UNIX are also supported)
  • Security, containerization and insulation of running applications
  • Simplified update procedure
  • Fast installation and clean uninstallation routines
  • Applications can be sent directly to Microsoft Store/Microsoft Store for Business and Education
  • Integrated licensing and monetization functions and numerous other APIs, including integration with Cortana, Sets, Timeline, etc.
  • Advanced enterprise features, including easy customization of existing vendor packages, advanced compatibility features and fixes

The modernization of old applications to the UWP framework (Universal Windows Platform) is not always possible. This applies in particular to line-of-business products or products that are no longer subject to maintenance. MSIX is the bridge to the UWP world, allowing old Win32 applications to run on the new platform with the new MSIX installer and all the benefits without requiring code changes.The changeover to the new format will take some time. However, according to Microsoft, the MSIX format is supposed to be the only native installation and packaging framework so that other legacy technologies such as MSI and APP-V are slowly being replaced completely.

The changeover to the new format will take some time. However, according to Microsoft, the MSIX format is supposed to be the only native installation and packaging framework so that other legacy technologies such as MSI and APP-V are slowly being replaced completely.

As one of the selected partners in the field of solution providers for the new packaging and deployment format, Microsoft relies on Raynet. Soon, Raynet will take its products to the next level: The new version of RayPack Studio is already in development and will support the new MSIX format in addition to traditional formats such as MSI and APP-V.