Liquit Setup Commander’s Repackaging Wizard now supports MSIX

Liquit Workspace supports MSIX app attach for Microsoft WVD natively (a blog about that including a video will be available soon). MSIX app attach is based on using MSIX. For Generating VHD’s for selected MSIX packages the msixmgr tool is used.

MSIX app attach is based on MSIX. Reality is that, up to today, none of the vendors, for which we have application titles in the Liquit Setup Store, have released an MSIX equivalent of their Win32 application setups. I’m talking about Win32 applications like 7-Zip, Adobe Reader DC, Google Chrome, Dropbox, Firefox, Microsoft Power BI Desktop, Notepad++, WinSCP etc.

That’s why we have added a new option to the Repackaging Wizard of Liquit Setup Commander to convert these to MSIX. Liquit Setup Commander is part of our Liquit Release & Patch Management offering.

The Repackaging Wizard uses the most popular packaging tools like Flexera’s AdminStudio, the Microsoft App-V Sequencer or Turbo Studio to simplify and speed up repackaging to MSI or to a virtual application.

Recently support for the MSIX Repackaging Tool has been added to this list. After you’ve downloaded and installed the MSIX Repackaging Tool from the Microsoft Store, you’re able to use this Repackaging Wizard to process both local setups and setups downloaded from our Liquit Setup Store, to quickly convert them to MSIX.

Let’s look how this works for Notepad++ since this is the application which is used most often in all kind of WVD blogs and demo’s. Don Ho is the creator and publisher of this particular application. He decided not to provide an MSI for various reasons. Only a legacy (non-MSI) setup.

One of the issues with the legacy setup for Notepad++ is that you can’t disable the update check in Notepad++ during or just after the installation, using this setup. There’s no switch to do this. The only option is to create and add a config.xml after the installation, to switch off the update options and notifications of Notepad++.

For various reasons this is very important to configure when converting Notepad++ to MSIX. Most important one is that the user, after installing Notepad++ using an MSIX package, can opt for installing an update from within Notepad++’s interface. Which would effectively trigger a download from the Notepad++ download page and a fresh installation of the non-MSIX Notepad++ update next to your MSIX installation. And that ruins the advantage of using an MSIX installation then. You basically end up with two installations: one legacy, one MSIX.

That’s why we look at alternatives like this Notepad++ setup. This MSI setup has an option to disable the Auto Updater. Which means using our MSI Configuration Wizard you’re able to configure this and save your prefered configuration option in a Transform file (MST) which can be brought in during unattended installation of the MSI.

After you’ve downloaded the setup from the Setup Store, or selected a setup from a local drive or share, select the environment you like to create the package in. Now the first release will only support packaging on a local machine, but we’re working on support for remote packaging too. That’s why only the first option is enabled for now:

Prepare your computer in this step. Which checks whether you’ve installed the MSIX Packaging Tool and asks for the path for the msixmgr.exe tool. This is needed when you want to want to convert the MSIX package to a MSIX app attach VHD:

Then here’s what saves you time repackaging Notepad++. We bring in the silent switches to install Notepad++. We also include the transform file we’ve created in the beginning and any other parameter which helps repackaging:

Looking at ‘Package information’, here’s another benefit. Fields like ‘Publisher Name’ and ‘Version’ are taken from the setup and validated. You can still change it accordingly of course, but it’s a time saver and also brings in consistent data:

MSIX packages need to be signed to be used in production. Therefore this part takes care of asking for the correct details on signing. The first release supports signing with a .pfx certificate only:

After all of this information is collected and validated, all of this is written to a MSIX Repackaging Tool template:

Then it’s time to actually move the work to and run the MSIX Packaging Tool using this template. This will create the MSIX package and sign it after it has been created successfully:

Then the last step is to create an MSIX app attach VHD:

Now, will this work for any Win32 application? Does this solve application compatibility issues? No. But let me comment on a few things here:

  • The Liquit Setup Store contains Win32 applications like VirtualBox, VMware Workstation, SMART Notebook, Visual C++ Runtime etc. Applications which either install drivers, services or other special components which are not supported by MSIX. We’re looking at how to tag these kind of applications. But for now it’s the same as when you download these manually and try to repackage them with the MSIX Packaging Tool.
  • We use the MSIX Repackaging Tool for repackaging. So any issues using the MSIX Packaging Tool or with MSIX packages created with the MSIX Packaging Tool will be the same as when using this tool from within the Liquit Setup Commander Repackaging Wizard.
  • We haven’t looked at application compatibility. So when the MSIX Packaging Tool creates an MSIX package which has compatibility issues, you have to look at the Package Support Framework options to solve these.

The next Liquit Setup Commander release with this MSIX Repackaging Wizard option will be available for preview later this month.