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Tech Brief: Citrix DaaS MSIX and MSIX app attach

  • Contributed By: Steven Gallagher Special Thanks To: Camilo Mariono, Anthony Zepeda

Overview

MSIX is a Windows app package format that provides a modern packaging experience to all Windows apps. MSIX packaging brings guaranteed clean installs and uninstalls, creates isolation between apps, and offers higher security for users’ environments. Combined, the ease of MSIX and the robust functionality of Citrix DaaS can significantly improve your app management experience and deliver benefits including:

  • Familiar publishing paradigm – Treat packages like seamless apps.
  • Ease of deployment: Admins can place the package or disk on a file share and add it to their existing Delivery Groups.
  • Simplified application updates: To update apps, admins can repackage the updated application file and rediscover it in Web Studio. The next time users launch the app, they’ll get the updated version.
  • Reduced image sizes: MSIX applications can eliminate the need for installation locally.

Citrix DaaS can deliver MSIX packaged applications to endpoints using the following methods:

  • MSIX packages delivered from a network share
  • MSIX app attach disk (MSIX packages mounted onto a single or multi-session app attach disk from Azure Files or an on-premises network share).

Citrix DaaS delivers MSIX and MSIX app attach applications to users through the Citrix Personalization component installed on VDA machines.

MSIX and MSIX app attach are both technologies related to Windows application packaging and deployment, but they serve different purposes and are used in different scenarios. Here's a comparison of the two:

MSIX

  • Application Packaging: MSIX is primarily a packaging format for Windows applications. It is designed to simplify the installation and management of applications on Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices.
  • Installation: MSIX packages are installed directly on the Windows operating system. They can be distributed through various means, including the Microsoft Store, sideloading, or deployment via management tools.
  • Isolation: MSIX applications are installed in a containerized environment, providing isolation from the underlying system. This isolation helps prevent conflicts between applications and ensures system stability.
  • Automatic Updates: MSIX supports automatic updates, making it easier for developers to deliver patches and updates to users. This is beneficial for keeping applications up to date.
  • Dependency Management: MSIX allows bundling dependencies within the package to reduce compatibility issues.
  • Use Cases: MSIX is suitable for various Windows application types, including Win32, .NET, and UWP apps.

MSIX app attach

  • Application Delivery: MSIX app attach is a technology used in virtual desktop environments, particularly in scenarios like Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). It is used to deliver applications to virtual desktops and sessions.
  • Packaging: Unlike MSIX, MSIX app attach doesn't involve packaging applications in the same way. Instead, it lets you dynamically attach MSIX packages to virtual machines or sessions when needed.
  • Virtualization: MSIX app attach uses virtualization technology to make applications available to virtual desktops without installing them directly on the VM. This can help reduce the storage and management overhead of maintaining multiple VM images with different applications.
  • Dynamic Application Delivery: With MSIX app attach, you can assign applications to users or virtual desktops on-demand, making it easier to manage and update applications in virtualized environments.
  • Use Cases: MSIX app attach is designed for virtualized environments like Azure Virtual Desktop. It's not intended for traditional desktop or laptop installations.

In summary, while MSIX and MSIX app attach are related to application management in Windows environments, MSIX is a packaging format for traditional Windows installations. In contrast, MSIX app attach is a technology designed for efficient application delivery in virtualized desktop environments.

MSIX app attach Benefits

MSIX app attach is a Microsoft application layering technology using MSIX packages. This enables the application to be separated from the operating system to deliver the applications dynamically to users.

Feature Traditional App Layering MSIX app attach
Format Different app layering technologies require different proprietary formats. Works with the native MSIX packaging format.
Repackaging overhead Proprietary formats require sequencing and repackaging per update. Apps published as MSIX don't require repackaging. However, repackaging overhead still applies if the MSIX package isn't available.
Ecosystem N/A MSIX is Microsoft's mainstream technology that key ISV partners and in-house apps like Office are adopting. You can use MSIX on both virtual desktops and physical Windows computers.
Infrastructure Infrastructure required (servers, clients, and so on). Storage only.
Administration Requires maintenance and update. Simplifies app updates. There is no infrastructure to maintain and support.

Traditional virtualization deployment

In a deployment with three different use cases (Finance, Sales, and IT) sharing the same operating system and standard line of business applications, the other set of applications to support the use cases requires IT admins to maintain three different images. Updates to the line of business applications and operating systems must be performed three times. The image disk size must support the operating system, line of business applications, and use case applications.

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MSIX app attach deployment

Using MSIX app attach in the deployment with three different use cases, a single golden image containing the operating system and line of business applications is used, and the use case applications are attached through MSIX app attach. The applications are independent of the operating system. Using MSIX app attach, IT admins can reduce the number of images, time spent updating images, and image disk size.

tech-briefs_citrix-daas-msix-and-msix-app-attach_msix03.png

Considerations

  • To support the delivery of MSIX and MSIX app attach packages, you must install the Citrix Personalization component on VDA machines. See Install the Citrix Personalization component on VDA machines for details.
  • VDA version:
    • To discover MSIX and MSIX app attach packages: 2209 or later.
  • Store application packages in a network location:
    • For MSIX or MSIX app attach: Store the packages on a UNC or SMB network share or an Azure File Share.
  • Make sure that the VDA has read permission on the package storage path:
    • If you store packages on a UNC or SMB network share in your AD domain, grant the VDA machine read permission to the storage path. To do so, you can explicitly give the machine’s AD account read permission to the share or include the account in an AD group with that permission.
    • If you store packages on an Azure File Share, first grant a user account read permission to the storage path in Azure. Next, configure ctxAppVService running on the VDA machine to access the package storage path using that user account.

Limitations

MSIX and MSIX app attach can only be used as published applications.

Citrix DaaS MSIX Compatibility Matrix

Citrix MSIX app attach is supported on persistent and non-persistent workloads, cloud providers, on-premises, and all hypervisors.

Operating System MSIX Support MSIX app attach Support
Windows Server 2019 Yes No
Windows Server 2022 Yes Yes
Windows 10/11 Single Session Yes Yes
Windows 10/11 Multisession Yes Yes

NOTE:

MSIX app attach was designed for Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop, and Windows Server operating systems are not supported. However, Windows Server 2022 is supported in Citrix DaaS.

Citrix and MSIX On-Demand Launch Process

tech-briefs_citrix-daas-msix-and-msix-app-attach_msix01.png

  1. The end-user authenticates in Workspace/DaaS and launches an application packaged by MSIX.
  2. The brokered VM requests information about the package containing the application to be published to the user.
  3. The session is established and launched (either direct or through Gateway Service.)
  4. The brokered VM connects to the file share.
  5. The relevant package in the network share is mounted to the session using the app attach disk or streamed from an MSIX package.
  6. The application is made available to the end-user.

Upload application packages into Citrix Cloud

After you store application packages in a network location as needed, upload them to Citrix Cloud for delivery. Use either of the following methods as required:

  • Source: Network path to discover all packages stored.
    1. From Manage > App Packages, select Sources in the top pane.
    2. Select Add Source for Citrix DaaS to discover your application package.
    3. Enter a friendly name for the source.
    4. Select a delivery group where all VDAs meet the requirements:
      • Version: 2203 or later for App-V packages; 2209 or later for MSIX and MSIX app attach packages
      • Citrix Personalization for App-V components: Installed
      • Permission on the package location: Read; Power state: On; Registration state: Registered
    5. Select location type Network share
    6. Enter UNC path.
    7. Select packages to be added (App-V, MSIX, MSIX app attach).
    8. Select if subfolder should be included in search.

tech-briefs_citrix-daas-msix-and-msix-app-attach_msix04.png

  • Package: The full network path of individual packages can be semicolon-separated.
    1. From Manage > App Packages, select Packages in the top pane.
    2. Select Add Source or Package for Citrix DaaS to discover your application package.
    3. Select Add Package from the Add Source or Package page,.
    4. Select a delivery group where all VDAs meet the requirements:
      • Version: 2203 or later for App-V packages; 2209 or later for MSIX and MSIX app attach packages
      • Citrix Personalization for App-V components: Installed
      • Permission on the package location: Read; Power state: On; Registration state: Registered
    5. Enter package full paths. Seperate them with semicolons(;).

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Summary

Citrix DaaS can improve operational efficiency and simplify your overall application management strategy by delivering MSIX packaged applications to endpoints. Learn more about MSIX and MSIX app attach with Citrix DaaS product documentation.

References

Links

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Read more: Product Documentation: Citrix MSIX app attach

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View Citrix Feature Explained: Publishing Applications with MSIX app attach with Citrix DaaS

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Read more: MSIX Packaging Tool - MSIX Packaging tool enables you to repackage your existing classic applications to MSIX format.

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Read more: MSIXHero - MSIX Hero is an open-source tool that simplifies the creation of MSIX app attach disks.

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Read more: appCURE - appCURE's proprietary technology enables applications to be captured from older operating systems and then repackaged ready to be delivered to Windows 10 and 11, including security enhancements and the ability to deliver older applications into MSIX app attach ready for Citrix.

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