The Future of Software on Windows: What is an MSIX File?

A file with the .msix extension is a Windows application installer. Microsoft has recently introduced MSIX as an alternative to EXE, MSI, and even AppX packets. Be careful and make sure to trust the source of an MSIX file before running it.

Windows has too many different types of installers

Currently, Windows has three common installation formats: MSI, EXE and AppX. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

MSI installers are ideal for simple, possibly unattended installations. They use a basic graphical user interface that installs or uninstalls the program without extras or options. Basically, this installer is a compressed set of installer files containing all the necessary data for the software. The installation process will not detect if the software already exists or if there are missing components. This could overwrite any files in the installation path. This simplicity means that a silent installation, with all the default settings, is a child's game for administrators.

EXE installers are more versatile than MSI installers, but the added functionality causes complications. This installation program may include options for languages, add-ons, detection of previous installations, and so on. EXE installation programs allow custom installation paths and allow you to choose which components to install. Developers can add their own branding to the GUI and integrate language-specific service requirements or point to a webpage to display a welcome message. But this in turn makes a silent installation unattended much more difficult and therefore less useful in a business situation.

AppX installation programs are used for universal Windows applications and share some of the benefits of MSI installation programs. These are simple and simple installers, with little choice given to the end user. In addition, they allow an easier upgrade path from older versions of the software to newer versions and a cleaner uninstall. AppX installers also rely on container technology, so they are isolated from the rest of the operating system for security reasons. Unfortunately, a program written for an MSI or EXE installation program had to be rewritten or converted, perhaps with the help of tools, for the AppX package. In addition, AppX packages can only be used with Windows 10, so older versions of Windows are not lucky.

MSIX combines the best features of MSI and AppX

An MSIX file has the advantages of AppX while being similar to an MSI file. It is a simple installer that system administrators can even script for an "unattended" automatic installation. In addition, it relies on container technology, which allows for smooth uninstallation and upgrades.

From the user's point of view, an MSIX installs as an MSI file, but behind the scenes, it installs as an AppX file. In addition, MSIX distribution outside the Microsoft Store is possible. And with this new process, it is easier to integrate older programs and repackage them for MSIX.

MSIX will work even under Windows 7, Linux and more!

The most interesting feature of MSIX may be that Microsoft published an SDK to improve cross-platform compatibility As noted on their GitHub page, support is available for iOS, MacOS, Android, Linux, and even older versions of Windows. Developers place special instructions in the MSIX files to help identify the operating system and the actions to take.

Programs will uninstall more cleanly

When you install a program with the help of an MSI file and an EXE file, this program can make changes to the registry and create files and folders on your entire system. When you uninstall the program, these files and registry keys are often forgotten, leaving a clutter on your system.

With MSIX, programs are installed in a container and all their necessary files remain in that container or follow precise and predictable rules on the location of these files (like living in the AppData folder). When you uninstall, all the data goes with the program – no clutter. This means that your system will be cleaner in the future.

It's always an installer, so be careful!

If you are viewing an MSIX file and ask yourself if it is safe, the first question to ask is where you got the installation program. Like any other installer, if you do not trust the source, you should not open it.

Before you even download the file, you must take steps to: Make sure it's safe. In the end, this is an installer, which means it can potentially install a fantastic program, an unwanted program or something worse.

When will I start to see MSIX files?

It may take some time before you see an MSIX file. Microsoft is still fine-tuning some of the promised capabilities, and until recently, only the booted versions of Windows 10 could create an MSIX package.

Even after careful development, the developers and installers of the technologies they rely on will need to adopt, learn, and deploy the new package. It's where they choose to do it. developers are free to continue to create EXE and MSI installers if they prefer it. The adoption of a new format entails risks and costs. Developers must take this into account.

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