Windows 10 S will only run executable code that is signed with a Windows, WHQL, ELAM, or Store certificate. Is it correct to assume that the only supported application in Windows 10 S version is Windows Store apps (APPX)? So, is this good reason to start repackaging your LOB apps to APPX apps (SCCM App Deployment)? In this post, we will see Step by Step by Step Video Guide to create and Deploy APPX Apps via SCCM and Troubleshooting Tips.
High-Level Details about APPX app packages (SCCM App Deployment)
What is special with APPX apps? Windows APPX applications will be isolated from the rest of the host machine. This means UWP/APPX application apps won’t have access to the kernel and system drivers. These are now containerized and more secured. UWP/APPX apps never create registry keys to the system registry.
Prerequisites for APPX app package Installation
Side loading feature should be enabled on Windows 10 machine to install APPX app. This can be done via Group Policies or from Windows 10 – Settings – Update & Security – For Developers – Use developer features and select Sideload apps option.
Are you not familiar with the term “sideload“? Sideload in Windows 10 it means the process of installing apps on your computer that hasn’t gone through the certification process to appear in the Store and to run on a Windows device.
APPX application architecture is very important while creating the application package. I have seen the APPX application deployment errors because of wrong architecture use in the APPX package.
It is highly recommended that you build your APPX app package to target all architectures. Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps can be configured to run on the following architectures: x86, x64, ARM.
Once the APPX package is created and tested on a Windows 10 machine then, the appx app deployment through SCCM is straight forward.
APPX application Deployment Troubleshooting on Windows 10
I tried to install an APPX application package to Windows 10 devices, and it got failed. As part of troubleshooting, I checked the requirement rules of automatically got imported to SCCM from APPXBundle file. SCCM App Deployment.
The application requirement is set to run only on Windows 10 mobile versions. I explained some of the issues and trouble shooting log file (AppDicover and AppEnforce) details in the video tutorial here.
Another trouble I got into is related to APPX apps supported architecture. Windows cannot install application because the APPX requires ARM Architecture, but deployed the computer has architecture x64.
Following is one example for APPX application deployment. I have also seen installation failures of the APPX applications when the APPX architecture set to “Neutral“.
Error details – Unable to make changes to your software. There was a problem applying changes to the software.
More information about the error code 0x80073D10 (-2147009264). This error means – The deployment operation failed because the package targets the wrong processor architecture.
How to Import or Create APPX Application package in SCCM Console
You can see more details about creating Windows Store (UWP) apps in the video tutorial here. Open SCCM CB console – Application management – Applications – Create new Application. Now, from the app creation wizard, we need to specify settings for the appx application.
Select “Automatically detect information about this application from installation files” and type of the application should be “Windows app package (*.appx, *.appxbundle)”. We need to provide the UNC path for application source on the location on this page.
We can verify the imported information from appxbundle file in the Import Information page. General Information page is the place where you can change the name of Windows 10 APPX application.
Name of the application, Publisher details, and Software version details could be changed from this page.
How to Distribute APPX app content to DPs
Once APPX application has been created, we need to distribute the source files of the APPX application to SCCM CB distribution points (DPs). The DPs are the location from where the client will get/download the source files during the installation process (SCCM App Deployment).
Right click on the APPX application from SCCM console and select Distribute content option as I showed in the video tutorial here. Distribute content wizard helps to complete the content distribution process.
We need to select the content destination details in the wizard. This is the place where you select DP server details or collection details. The source files of APPX application will be replicated to selected DP servers.
You can monitor the content distribution from monitoring workspace of SCCM console. You can go to details pane and select View status.
The distmgr.log and PkgXFermgr.log files are your best friends to troubleshoot SCCM content replication issues.
How to deploy APPX application to Windows 10 Device?
Once APPX application created and the content is successfully distributed to DPs then, we can go to next step. The deployment of the appx package to SCCM client windows 10 machines is the next step.
What is a deployment of an application from SCCM perspective? Deployment is nothing but providing instructions to targeted machines/users (in a collection). The instructions are like schedule time, the behaviour of application installation, etc.
Deploy software wizard guides us through the SCCM APPX application deployment process. In the General page, we need to specify general information for this deployment.
Software name should automatically be displayed on this page. We need to select target devices and users collections for deployment of APPX apps.
Make sure we have selected “Automatically distribute content for dependencies” option in this wizard will help us to perform content distribution of dependent apps automatically.
Deployment settings is another important option to specify settings to control how this software is deployed. For installation of APPX application, we need to select the action called Install. For uninstallation of APPX application, we need to select the action called uninstall.
There are another control settings of the application, and that is called Purpose. When you select purpose as available, then the application will be available in the Software Center of Windows10 machine.
The APPX application installation won’t start automatically. The user needs to initiate the installation of APPX application manually.
Required option in deployment settings should be selected when we have to install APPX application on to the machine automatically without any manual intervention.
When you choose purpose as Required in the deployment settings then, another three check boxes will get enabled on the page.
Pre-Deploy software to the user's primary device Send wake-up packets Allow clients on a metered internet connection to download content after the installation deadline which might incur additional costs
Deploy software wizard guides us the schedule of APPX application deployment. We can schedule the application to be available after a specific time. This can be used future scheduling of application.
Installation deadline is another option we can schedule for the application deployment. User experience is the next option of deployment we can specify in this deployment wizard page. SCCM App Deployment.
End user Experience of APPX Deployment and Installation on Windows 10
The user will automatically get notification from Software Center as per the user experience you set in the deployment setting wizard. The user can open the software center and the listed APPX application.
Also, when you click on a specific application, you will get more details about the progress of the application installation on Windows 10 machines.
When the installation is completed, you would be able to see the deployment status in the SCCM console. Windows 10 start menu will display the recently installed application.
- How to Create a Windows Store AppX package and sign it https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/wsdevsol/2014/02/12/create-a-windows-store-appx-package-and-sign-it/
- App package architectures – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/uwp/packaging/device-architecture
- How to sign an app package using SignTool – https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/jj835835(v=vs.85).aspx
- Sideload LOB apps in Windows 10 – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/application-management/sideload-apps-in-windows-10
- How to Package APPX/UWP apps – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/uwp/packaging/
- Create an app package with the MakeAppx.exe tool – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-in/windows/uwp/packaging/create-app-package-with-makeappx-tool