I had the privilege to test drive the integration of MSIX app attach in the Azure portal at an early stage. In this article I’ll share my early test results!

On October 16, 2019 I wrote the article MSIX app attach will fundamentally change working with application landscapes on Windows Virtual Desktop! This was based on a pre-private preview providing a sneak peek on what’s coming. Since that time I wrote several other articles covering the evolution of the technology. I covered publishing a heavy design application using MSIX app attach, I shared some scripts to transform MSIX applications into packages, and recently I published a video showing the staging and registering of seven applications inside a single MSIX app attach container. Until now, MSIX app attach was all based on PowerShell to stage and register MSIX app attach applications.

Recently Microsoft shared more details on MSIX app attach and Stefan Georgiev, Senior Program Manager on the WVD team, published a great video on the Azure Portal Integration with for MSIX app attach.

Before we get started we obviously needs MSIX app attach packages ready on a share and accessible from the Host Severs. This process is identical to way we performed that when using the PowerShell method of staging and registering, so I won’t repeat that here. Instead, let’s jump right in and take a look at the integration in the Azure Portal! Inside the Azure portal on the Host Pool blade, we now have a new option MSIX packages.

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This allows us to perform the first step, staging applications to all WVD Hosts that are part of this host pool. By clicking Add we can specify the UNC path towards the MSIX app attach package (IaaS File Share, Azure Files et cetera). And after doing that the list of MSIX applications (entry points) inside that package is retrieved and presented in a dropdown box. In the example below I have seven applications inside a single package. For this step to work, the host pool obviously needs to be in a healthy state, and at least 1 WVD Host needs to be running. Adding MSIX packages to a host pool will trigger the RD Agent on a healthy WVD Host inside the pool which is randomly selected. That WVD host will then load, parse, and validate the MSIX image and the MSIX packages stored inside it.

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After selecting an application we are able to complete the application details by providing the application name, display name description etc.

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After completing this for a couple of example applications this looks like below.

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At a five minute interval the RD Agent on each WVD Host that is part of the host pool will contact the WVD management service to check for any updates. During that time the Staging step takes place and the WVD Host will mount the MSIX app attach package. This can be confirmed by taking a look at disk manager.

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In order to prevent users from using the MSIX package before it is staged on all WVD Hosts, you can set to the state “Inactive” in the Azure Portal.

Now that we have covered the staging step, let’s take a look at the registering step. For that we open the WVD App group we want to use and select Add. This allows us to specify the MSIX source package and select an application.

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After completing the step for in this case 4 sample applications, that looks like below.

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We can now log on with a test user who is a assigned to this application group and see the end result. Upon logon, the registering step takes place and the MSIX app attach application now appear in the session!

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And here are all four applications running in my user session coming from, in this case, a single MSIX app attach container!

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We covered working with MSIX app attach in the Azure Portal, but the PowerShell equivalents are of course also available to help automate the configuration. For that to work, make sure you update your Az.DesktopVirtualization to version 2.0.1. Below is an example of using Get-AzWvdMsixPackage.

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In case you want to change the 5-minute interval that WVD hosts use to check for MSIX app attach updates, here is the corresponding registry location.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftRDInfraAgentMSIXAppAttach]

“PackageListCheckIntervalMinutes”=dword:00000001

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The Event log also provides information about the various staging and registering steps.

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Below is a nice visual representation of the MSIX staging and registering steps, as shared by Tom Hickling.

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And finally, special thanks to Stefan Georgiev for providing the preview information and the ability to test drive this early! It’s super great to see huge steps MSIX app attach is taking. The integration in the Azure Portal works really well! Looking forward to adding more applications and test-driving other scenarios!

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