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Laurel Windows Assistant MSIX Deployment: Best Practices for Administrators
Laurel Windows Assistant MSIX Deployment: Best Practices for Administrators

Tips to ensure Laurel is installed on all users' windows machines.

Shaun Bernhardt avatar
Written by Shaun Bernhardt
Updated over a week ago

Understanding MSIX

Microsoft uses a preferred package format called MSIX that combines the benefits of MSI, .appx, App-V, and ClickOnce. The packaging format maximizes flexibility and security and is the preferred installer for the Laurel Windows Assistant.

To dive deeper, visit Microsoft's official guide.

MSIX Autoupdates

The Laurel Windows Assistant MSIXup is configured to automatically update to provide the latest and best experience for Laurel users (along with improved security) when not deploying with Microsoft Intune.

Please use the MSI or MSIX installer if you would like to avoid autoupdates.

Please visit our Laurel Windows Assistant download page to find the latest installers suitable for your team. Our team will update you through Intercom and email when new installers are available for upgrade.

Deploying the MSIX Laurel Windows Assistants

Different Installers

Depending on your installation needs and Windows version we have created multiple installers.

  1. AppInstaller - This version works on Windows 10 and 11 and WILL self-update

  2. MSIX - This version works on Windows 10 and 11 and will NOT self-update

  3. MSI - This version works on Windows 10 and 11 and will NOT self-update (Use this version if your SCCM can't install MSIX packages)

Citrix Environments

Deploying MSIX applications through Citrix Virtual Apps is possible with these steps:

  1. Package Creation: Just like in the System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) process, you should convert your existing applications to MSIX using the MSIX Packaging Tool.

  2. Application Publishing: With your MSIX package, you can now publish it using Citrix Studio. Make sure your Delivery Controllers are updated to the latest version to fully support MSIX.

Managing Roaming Profiles

To properly support per user roaming installations, the Citrix server must have the Citrix Personalization component installed on the server. Once that is setup, you create an app-v package for distribution which utilizes private storage for each user to manage their personal setting.

The entire process is covered in the following official documentation:

Installation via MSIX Walk Throughs

Via Basic App Installer Locally

  1. Click "Get the app"

  2. After download is complete, double click the Laurel.Installer file and walk through each step for installation.

    Note: This method works well for individual users and the app will check for updates during each launch. It is our easiest and most simple way to install Laurel Assistant.


Via Powershell Locally


Uninstalling

  1. Uninstalling assistant by running the Powershell script below:

    Remove-AppPackage -Package (Get-AppxPackage Laurel.Assistant).PackageFullName


    Note: Powershell may need to be run in “Admin” mode.

Installing

  1. Download the .msix file from: https://www.laurel.ai/downloads/windows

  2. Install via Powershell using the following Powershell script:

     ​Add-AppxPackage -Path "C:\Users\<username>\Downloads\Laurel.Installer_<file version>_x86.msix"

  3. After installation is complete you can now launch Assistant from the Start Menu. Under the About option you will see the new version installed

    Note: You can additionally launch the app as an administrator with the following Powershell command:

    Start-Process -file explorer.exe -ArgumentList "shell:AppsFolder\$((Get-AppXPackage Laurel.Assistant).PackageFamilyName)!LaurelAssistant"


Via SCCM

Installation Steps

Note: You need to have SCCM already installed in your environment.

Note: Your SCCM version should be updated to at least 1806, which supports MSIX packages.

Note: The devices you want to install the MSIX package on should be running at least Windows 10 version 1809.

  1. Download the .msix file this from: https://www.laurel.ai/downloads/windows

  2. Once the x86.msix package is downloaded please use SCCM to deploy.

    There are no additional switches required during deployment.

  3. To verify that Laurel Assistant has been deployed it should appear as an application on the Users device and can be launched as normal

Via Microsoft Intune

Deployment Steps

  1. Go to Apps > All apps and click Add.

  2. Select the app type you want to deploy. Select "Windows 10 and later."

  3. A wizard will ask you to configure information shared with users about your app. The default settings should be acceptable for most organizations, but feel free to edit as needed. Then, click "Next."

  4. The second step, Configure app suite, is the place where the actual configuration takes place. Most of the settings are pretty self-explanatory, possibly except for the ones I list below, so let’s quickly discuss them:

    1. Once you finish setting everything up, click Next.

    2. Configuration settings format – leave the default setting (Configuration designer) to use a user-friendly GUI in Intune to configure the Microsoft 365 Apps. The other option requires you to prepare a special XML file. Learn more

    3. Use shared computer activation – allows you to deploy Microsoft 365 Apps on computers accessed by many users and override the Microsoft 365 device limit. Learn more

    4. Install background service for Microsoft Search in Bing – allows you to deploy a Chrome extension to facilitate searching e.g. people, files or internal sites in your organization. Learn more

      Note: You can get information on each item by simply clicking the info icon next to it .

  5. Scope tags is an Intune feature that allows you to decide which admins in your organization will have access to a specific configuration or policy. To limit access to this Microsoft 365 Apps configuration and be able to select appropriate scope tags, you have to define and assign them to specific groups of users first. Learn more

    1. If you don’t want to use Scope tags, simply click Next.

  6. Assignments is an important step. Here, you can decide for which users or on which devices the Microsoft 365 Apps will be installed (the Required section), available to install (the Available for enrolled devices section), or removed (the Uninstall section). If you would like to make assignments according to AAD groups (the Add group option), remember to create appropriate public AAD group(s) beforehand.

    1. Since you want to deploy Microsoft 365 Apps to all users, you should use the Add all users option under Required and click Next.

  7. The last step, Review + create, allows you to review the whole configuration for Microsoft 365 Apps. If you’re fine with all the settings, click Create to start the deployment.

Via MSIX App Attach

Creating Azure AD Domain Services

  1. Create a new Azure AD Domain Services (Azure AD DS).

    Note: This is used to provide managed domain services such as domain join, group policy, lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP), and Kerberos/NTLM authentication.

  2. To create an Azure AD DS, click on the Create button and input the required details.

Creating a File Share in Azure Portal

  1. Navigate to the Azure portal and search for Storage Accounts.

  2. Then, click on Create and address the following:

    • Subscription

    • Resource Group (make sure it is in the same resource group as your Azure Virtual Desktop)

    • Storage Account name

    • Region

    • Redundancy (Storage type)

  3. You can further customize the storage as you wish, or continue by clicking on Review + Create.

  4. Once the storage account is created, it’s time to add a new file share to it. Navigate to the created storage account and click on the File shares option.

  5. Now, press the +File share button. This will bring up a window where you can input the Name of your share and which Tier you want to opt in for.

  6. Click on the Review +Create button.

    Azure File Share Configuration

Syncing the File Share with Azure Active Directory

  1. Navigate back to your Storage accounts, select File shares and click on the Active Directory button.

  2. You will be prompted with a new window where you choose the Azure Active Directory Domain Services and click on Configure.

  3. Check the Enable Azure Active Directory Domain Services (Azure AD DS) for this file share checkbox (in the upper right corner)

Setting Permissions

  1. Navigate to the Storage accounts

  2. Select your previously created storage account

  3. Go to Access Control(IAM)

  4. Click on Add and add the following roles:

    • Storage Account Contributor

    • Storage Blob Data Contributor

    • Storage Blob Data Reader

    • Storage File Data SMB Share Contributor

    • Virtual Machine Administrator Login

    • Virtual Machine Contributor

Note: For each of these roles, your account and virtual machine must be added like this:


Assign MSIX packages via App Attach

  1. Navigate to Azure Virtual Desktop and select your Host Pools.

  2. In your host pool, you will see the MSIX Packages option. Click on the +Add option.

  3. As you will see, this will require an MSIX image path - this path must correspond to the your storage account path that we previously created.

  4. Add files to your Storage Account, navigate to the file share and click on Upload.

    Note: The path that must be specified to MSIX App Attach is as follows:

    \\STORAGEACCOUTNAME.file.core.windows.net\FILESHARENAME\filename.vhd

  5. Once the path is provided to Azure, a few options will appear such as Display name, Registration Type and State (it must be set to active).

  6. To create the application group for assignment, click on Application Groups in your host pool.

  7. Next, in the app group, select Applications and click on the +Add option:

  8. Select your MSIX package from the list and press Save.

    Note: The sync with AD will take some time, but the application will appear on your virtual machine after a few minutes.

Via KACE Distribution

  1. First gather up all the installation files required and zip them up into a single zip file.

    1. Note: Be careful the files are at the root of the zip and not in a folder at the root of the zip file (This could cause failures).

  2. Save the zipped file to a location accessible when uploading to the KACE web interface.

  3. Now, log into your KACE environment and pull up a current inventoried PC that already has all software in the zip file installed.

    1. Expand the Installed Programs field under Device Inventory. Find the software and click on the hyperlink for it.

    2. Note: that this must be the exact same version of the zipped package.

  4. Under the Manage Operating Systems, ensure all OS versions you plan to distribute this version to are selected

    1. Note: that with version 8 release of KACE, you can select entire OS Versions instead of individual versions as an option.

  5. Click on the Browse button, browse to and select the zipped file you have saved.

  6. After selecting the file, change the Category and Threat Level as needed. Click Save button when finished.

  7. Navigate to Home>Label Management, then click Labels

    1. Under Labels, click Choose Action and select New Manual Label.

  8. Complete Name, Description and selections for Restrict Label Usage To.

    1. Click Save when finished.

    2. Note: Start Software Installation Labels with SIL (Software Installation Label) for Best Practices

  9. Navigate to Distribution > Managed Installations. Under File, click New.

  10. Configure Name, Execution; choose the software from the drop down options (Choose the one you uploaded earlier)

  11. Note that with Version 8 you can choose Cataloged Software or Software from the Software list. Your uploaded zip file will be associated under Software.

  12. Now choose the installation commands. Most often you will choose Override Default Installation to include switches such as silent installation.

  13. Under Deploy, click Manage Associated Labels and select the label you created for this distribution and click apply.

  14. Configure Notifications to give the user warnings and completion messages.

  15. Configure Schedules as needed (What times it is permitted to install and how many attempts until it reports failed, etc.) Click Save when complete.

  16. Now apply the new Label to any device you wish to install it on. After the device inventories next, it will install per configured settings.



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