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Older Windows 10 Versions Get Support for MSIX Format

Windows 10 versions 1803 and 1709 now have support, with some limitations, for Microsoft's MSIX packaging format.

MSIX is Microsoft's new packaging format for application software. Starting with last November's official release of Windows 10 version 1809, Microsoft has been touting MSIX as the replacement for the older AppX format.

Organizations can distribute MSIX packages for Windows 10 versions 1803 and 1709 "using tools like System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune, PowerShell, double-click file deployments or installing directly from the APIs," explained John Vintzel, program manager lead for MSIX, in Microsoft's Monday announcement. However, they can't distribute packages from the Microsoft Store or Microsoft Store for Business as doing that "will still require Windows 10 1809 or later."

Other limitations on the use of MSIX with Windows 10 versions 1803 and 1709 are described in this Microsoft document. Even though Microsoft added support for those older operating systems in response to customer requests, the limitations seem like they could be deal breakers for some developers, IT pros and even end users.

For instance, here are the limitations of Windows 10 versions 1803 and 1709 with regard to MSIX use, per Microsoft's document:

  • No support for using the MSIX Packaging Tool or Visual Studio
  • No support for "MSIXbundles," an application package type
  • Users have to manually verify the app signatures
  • Users must run the MSIX files as administrators

Update 2/12: Vintzel responded by e-mail today that these items aren't really deal breakers and "they have very little impact to IT Pros."

With regard to users having to manually verify the app signatures, Vintzel clarified that "this item is not really something users would do. It is usually a troubleshooting item if there are signature issues with your package."

On the notion that users must run the MSIX files as administrators, Vintzel commented that "this is only for apps that want to auto-elevate. The overwhelming majority of apps do not require this functionality. For apps that do require the functionality, then the right-click launching is needed."

He added that "we are correcting the docs to ensure they have more clarity on these documented issues."

Microsoft also announced on Monday that it has released a new version of the MSIX Packaging Tool, namely version 1.2019.110.0. However, using it also requires having Windows 10 version 1809 or later installed. The MSIX Packaging Tool, available from the Microsoft Store, can be used to repackage older Win32 (Windows 7-type) applications in the MSIX format.

One other bit of news in Microsoft's announcement is that it plans to launch a new Insider Program for users to try future preview releases of the MSIX Packaging Tool. There's a sign-up link to join the new Insider Program. It's located at the bottom of Microsoft's "MSIX Packaging Tool Overview" page.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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