Microsoft Application Layering using MSIX
Microsoft purchased FSLogix in late 2018 and it looks like at this year’s annual conference, IGNITE 2019, we might have a sneak peek at some of the fruits of that talent acquisition. I’ve been using FSLogix at a ton of clients recently since the immediate result of the purchase was basically to make it free for most enterprise Microsoft customers. FSLogix is a container-based solution that allows administrators to store profiles inside a .VHDX files stored on a network file share. I have been using it more and more with both Citrix and VMware based client solutions as the preferred way to store the user profile from session to session. When a user logs on to a new session, the corresponding .VHDX is attached using a filter driver makes it appear local to the OS disk and the user’s profile is thus immediately available to the new session.
The whole process is very clean and easy to implement since it basically requires just a File Share, an agent, and some group policies. No centralized management servers or middlemen at all. Based on this elegant tech, it looks like Microsoft might be working on an Application Layering product/format called MSIX App Attach.
Over on Freek Berson’s blog, there is an excellent write up on MSIX App Attach. This is SUPER EARLY BETA type stuff and not available to the general public but it seems to me to be based on a lot of the FSLogix technology. MSIs or application installs are encapsulated and stored in .VHDX files and are attached using filter driver technology to a user’s session making it seem as though the application is installed natively. Freek’s blog post has some great inside baseball from the Microsoft teams and even has some very early screenshots of interfaces and functionality.
Toward the end of the blog, Freek teased the fact that there will be some WVD (Windows Virtual Desktop) / MSIX related sessions if you are attending and want to get an even closer look at the tech yourself.
I think it’s great that Microsoft is pushing out new utilities and formats like this. These just become excellent tools to add to our toolbelts to help deliver the best possible experience for users. Having another offering native from Microsoft like this is exciting since it could be used with both Citrix and VMware VDI deployments.
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