MSIX App Attach on Windows Virtual Desktop

MSIX_appAttach

Windows Virtual Desktops App Attach has just gone into Public Preview. A new major step in delevering and optimizing Windows Virtual Desktop application management. This blog will cover to steps on how to set it up.

MSIX_appAttach
Wndows Virtual Desktop, Fslogix and App Attach

But first what is MSIX App Attach and why it’s going to help you with your WVD environment. When maintaining your environment there are generally three components that you manage. Namely the OS, User Profiles and Applications. On a laptop for example all these components are on a single device and the components stored on a single disk. This works fine for the laptop but if you have non-persistent environments you have a challenge. In an ideal situation you want to separate the user data, application data and OS data.

Fslogix

Separating the user information is something that has long been used and is especially handy when you work on non persistent environments. With Fslogix there is no need anymore for the User Profile Disk, which comes with all its limitations and performance issues. It works great for non persistent environments. This way the user data is seperated from the OS and the Application data and is stored seperatly.

MSIX App Attach

With MSIX App Attach you can separate the applications from the Operating System, the same way that you would use Fslogix to separate the user data from the OS. This way you will have three different entities that you can mange independently of each other. So if you would have to update an application you wouldn’t have to create a new golden image for example, but would only modify or create a new application package. This makes the deployment and updates management of your environment much easier.

Let`s get started

Here’s what I’ll be covering:

  • Create Share
  • Convert MSIX to VHDX
  • Configure MSIX App attach

There are a couple of thing you will need:

  1. A certificate to sign your MSIX package, this certificate also needs to be installed on the WVD session hosts. Check out my previous blog on how to to this; Deploy MSIX with Intune.
  2. Applications that are already packaged in the MSIX format. Also check out Deploy MSIX with Intune on how to set this up.
  3. For now your subscription needs to be white listed for MSIX app attach. Fill out the Microsoft form, with your subscription ID. Approval of request can take up to 24 hours.
  4. A Windows Virtual Desktop environment with session hosts which are based on Windows version 2004. Make sure that you set this host pool to an evaluation environment.

Create Network Share

To deploy the MISX packages to the Session hosts you will need a network share. This network share needs to be accessible for users AND to computers. So create two groups, one containing your users, one containing your WVD session hosts. All is needed are Read rights.

Prepare WVD hosts

First the automatic updates for MSIX app attach applications needs to be disabled. In a elevated command prompt run:

rem Disable Store auto update:

reg add HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsStore /v AutoDownload /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
Schtasks /Change /Tn "\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\Automatic app update" /Disable
Schtasks /Change /Tn "\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\Scheduled Start" /Disable

rem Disable Content Delivery auto download apps that they want to promote to users:


reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ContentDeliveryManager /v PreInstalledAppsEnabled /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ContentDeliveryManager\Debug /v ContentDeliveryAllowedOverride /t REG_DWORD /d 0x2 /f

rem Disable Windows Update:


sc config wuauserv start=disabled

Furthermore Hyper-V needs to be enabled on the VM. To install Hyper-V run

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Hyper-V -All

Convert MSIX to VHDX

Before you can use the MSIX package, you will need to convert them to VHD(x) files (or .Cim but we won’t cover this today). Using the Microsoft docs, this is how you convert the MSIX.

  1. You will need the Hyper-V management tools. Install them by using
    Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Hyper-V -All
  2. Download the msixmgr tool.
  3. Unzip the files
  4. Run the following Powershell commands to create a VHDx. Adjust the command s to your needs
New-VHD -SizeBytes 1000MB -Path c:\temp\chrome.vhdx -Dynamic -Confirm:$false
$vhdObject = Mount-VHD c:\temp\chrome.vhdx -Passthru
$disk = Initialize-Disk -Passthru -Number $vhdObject.Number
$partition = New-Partition -AssignDriveLetter -UseMaximumSize -DiskNumber $disk.Number
Format-Volume -FileSystem NTFS -Confirm:$false -DriveLetter $partition.DriveLetter -Force

5. Create a parent folder. In my case I will name it GoogleChrome
6. Run the msixmgr to expand the MSIX package.
.\msixmgr.exe -Unpack -packagePath “C:\Temp\Appattach\GoogleChrome_68.46.88.0_x64__v1hrd262mcs5e.msix” -destination “D:\GoogleChrome” -applyacls
The destination is the folder you created in step 4 and 5
7. Detach the VHDX and your are ready to place the VHDX to your packages location

WVD Portal

With the preparations in place we can now add the MSIX packages to our hosts pool. Because the feature is still in preview you will need to use the following link to access MIX package feature https://preview.portal.azure.com/?feature.msixapplications=true#home. Go to your WVD app attach host pool, here you will see a new option, MSIX packages.

MSIX app attach

Select MSIX packages and Add to add a new package.
– Enter the UNC path to the VHDX file
– Enter a display name
– Set the state to Active

Add msix package
Add MSIX package

Now that the package is added you will need to assign the application to users. In you Host pool select Application groups. By default there should be at least one application group named after your host pool name followed by -DAG. To assign the application group to users go to assignment and add the users that need access to the host pool.

To add the MSIX package to the host pool go to Applications and select add:
– For MSIX Package select your added package
– Provide a Name
– Select Save

Add MSIX application

To check your work log in to the WVD host pool as a user and you should see the application that was added via MSIX app attach!

MSIX app attach final result

More info

Hopefully the information provided was helpful to you. You can also checkout the following sites for additional information:

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