What is MSIX App Attach?

MSIX is the new packaging format released in 2018 by Microsoft. We already have a full introduction guide which provides the key points of this new technology and we also have a free EBook MSIX Packaging Fundamentals.

MSIX has been integrated in two of the largest management infrastructure tools from Microsoft:

With these integrations, deploying packages in your infrastructure is a piece of cake. But MSIX offers an additional type of deployment, which is MSIX app attach.

MSIX app attach is a separate way in which you can deliver your MSIX packages in your infrastructure, no matter if you are running physical or virtual machines. App attach mounts your MSIX application during the logon of the user without requiring you to install the application itself. The application shell integrations are performed silently in the background and later on appear as installed to the end-user.

Ways of attaching MSIX applications

When an application is attached to the system, only the required blocks of data are copied to the virtual machine, meaning shortening the installation process timeline and lowering the bandwidth required to get all the application payload on the machine. This approach is recommended to lower the cost of data storage and network usage.

But MSIX App Attach is a bit different from a normal MSIX package. MSIX app attach applications are attached as *.vhd (virtual hard disk files), meaning you need to enable the Hyper-V feature on the clients where you want to push these types of applications.

Delivering MSIX app attach is made to work especially with Azure Virtual Desktop. There are different ways to deliver an MSIX app attach in Azure Virtual Desktop , and there are:

  • Place the applications in a master image
  • Use tools like SCCM or Intune for central management
  • Dynamic app provisioning (AppV, VMware AppVolumes, or Citrix AppLayering)
  • Create custom tools or scripts using Microsoft and a third-party tool

If you don’t use Azure Virtual Desktop, you can still use the MSIX App Attach functionality. Once you enable Microsoft Hyper-V on your machines, you can create PowerShell scripts for MSIX App Attach and execute them in the following order:

  • Stage
  • Register
  • Deregister
  • Destage

For more information about setting up app attach, check out this article on Microsoft blogs.