Microsoft® Operating Systems have a deep history with Windows application installers. Availability of different techniques, spanning from legacy installers, through Windows Installer, Click-Once and App-V created several challenges for developers packaging their apps for legacy and modern environments. Due to fast growth of mobile and other non-PC like tablets, phones, game consoles and HoloLens, it has become critically important to unify the installation frameworks and come with a solution that is cross-platform and supports wide range of apps and technologies.
Followed by a series of announcement, especially at Windows Developer Day, Build, Ignite and AppManagEvent, the company has finally worked a way out to provide a single experience consolidating legacy and modern apps inside a single installer. The new format – named MSIX – is internally based on APPX technology stack which provides a solid containerization foundation, yet expanding on previously unavailable enterprise oriented features. This is also symbolized by its name, where APPX + MSI = MSIX. The technology is going to be built in Windows 10 (starting from builds 1809 (October 2018 Update) following series of Insider Builds) and is going to take best of MSI, App-V and Click-Once. Specific goals of the MSIX are:
- Multiplatform format (not limited to Windows OS)
- Security, containerization and isolation of running apps
- Fast install and clean uninstall routines made with easy, preventing any kind of Windows Rot
- Ability to publish apps in Microsoft Store / Microsoft Store for Business and Education
- Built-in licensing and monetization features + tons of other APIs, including integration with Cortana, Sets, Timeline etc.
- Expanded enterprise features, including easy customization of existing vendor packages (Modification Packages), extended compatibility features and fixes (Package Support Framework)
The migration to the new format will take some time, but eventually it is intended that the MSIX is to become the one native installation and packaging framework. MSIX is going to be actively developed, bringing new features and improvements to the existing code bases and introduced in next Windows builds.