MSIX - Install Packages from Web Directly !

vdonga
Flexera
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Introduction

While building your packages is the first step, distributing your packages is the next logical step. You want to make this process very trivial to your users. MSIX. What if your users can directly install from web. Let's learn how !

New Scheme from Microsoft - ms-appinstaller

Microsoft makes this possible by using the protocol activation scheme - ms-appinstaller. When you click on a link referenced by this scheme, Windows invokes the app-installer and makes it really seamless for the app to be installed. The app is not downloaded onto the machine. It's rather streamed directly from the web server

Of course, for this 'hand-shake' to happen, there are a few requirements to be met, on the webserver. Here is some documentation from Microsoft on how to enable this.

However, for the sake of illustrating this simply, I took the route of GitHub pages where the requirements are configured already. Here are some very simple steps through which I created the 'install from web' experience

  1. Create a sample GitHub repo
  2. Enable GitHub pages in your repo's settings
  3. Upload your msix package to the repo
  4. Create a simple html file. I created an 'index.html' file here
    • Notice the link. This is where the magic lies
      <a href="ms-appinstaller:?source=https://vdonga.github.io/msix-examples/msi-diff/appinstaller/MsiDiff_x86.msix"> Install MSI Diff Package </a>
    • Look at the href for the link. This is how you specify what your link is pointing to
  5. That's all !

Now, all you need to do, is to access your page till 'index.html'. Click on the link 'Install MSI Diff Package' link

Don't worry, the package is safe. It's InstallShield's MSI Diff tool signed with our corporate signature.

Thanks for trying !

References:

Microsoft's Documentation