Endpoint Manager Win32 App Deployment (MSI and EXE)

HOW TO: deploy Win32 application using Endpoint Manager.

With Endpoint Manger you can deploy a variety of different applications to Windows clients.  I have made blog posts about using MSIX packages to provide a modern way to distribute applications. Sometimes MSIX might not be the right solution for you. This blog is about deploying Win32 applications using the Windows App (Win32) capabilities. This form of distributing gives you a lot of control on how and when an application should be installed.

A note of caution, if you start to use Windows App (Win32) app deployment for your environment it is highly recommended that you do not combine Windows App (Win32) with Line-of-Buisiness app installations. Especially if you are planning to use Microsoft Autopilot, the combination of Win32 apps and Line-of-Business apps will cause installations to fail. So, if you decide to use Windows App (Win32), use it for all your applications.

Before you can upload a Win32  application to Endpoint Manager you will need to prepare the application. Essentially you repackage the application and all the dependent files into an .IntuneWin package, which can then be uploaded to Endpoint Manger. To package an application you will need to download the Win32 Content Prep Tool from GitHub.

You will then need to gather all required media to install the application and place them into one folder. I have created two examples, one for .exe applications and one for .msi application. For both types of installations, it is recommended to create two batch files, one for installation and one for the uninstallation. This will provide better control when deploying the application.

For the Citrix Workspace, which is an .exe I have created the following batch files: install.cmd and uninstall.cmd and placed them in a folder togheter with the exe installation file.

Install.cmd:

@ECHO OFF
PUSHD "%~dp0"
"CitrixWorkspaceApp.exe" /silent /noreboot /forceinstall

uninstall.cmd

@ECHO OFF
PUSHD "%~dp0"
"CitrixWorkspaceApp.exe" /silent /uninstall
Citrix Workspace package content

For Acrobat Reader, which is an .msi I have also created the following batch files: install.cmd and uninstall.cmd. These files are added to the installation files.

msiexec /i "%~dp0AcroRead.msi" ALLUSERS=1 /qn /norestart
msiexec /x "%~dp0AcroRead.msi" /q
Acrobat Reader package content

Once you have gathered all the necessary installation media and you have validated that your batch files are working, by running the install.cmd and uninstall.cmd files you are ready to package. To package the applications run IntuneWinAppUtil.exe from an elevated PowerShell prompt. You are prompted for the source folder, which is the folder that contains all the installation files. The setup file is the actual executable and you need to specify an output folder where the .IntuneWin  file will be saved. At this point we do not need a Catalog folder. After the Utillity is ready you will end up with an .IntuneWin file.

Endpoint Manager

Now its time to distribute the application using Endpoint Manger. Login to endpoint.microsoft.com and select Apps and all Apps to Add a new application. Make sure to choose Windows app (Win32) as an app type. The first step is to select your .IntuneWin file and to provide information about the application. I will first start with Citrix Workspace and then add Acrobat Reader.

Application information

The second step specifies how to install the application. For the install and uninstall commands you will need to enter the batch files you created in the beginning. In my case the Install command is install.cmd and the uninstall command is uninstall.cmd. For installation behavior you can choose between system and user. This will determine where the application will be installed, either in the system context or in the user profile, this depends on your application.

Application installation controls

Choosing a restart behavior after the application is installed. Of course, this all depends on your application and whether it requires a reboot. Depending on your needs the following actions are explained:

Determine behavior based on return codes – The device will restart bases on the configured return code.
No specific action – Will suppress a restart during the installation of Win32 apps.
App install may force a device restart – This option means that the Win32 app installation can complete without suppressing restarts. With this configuration a Hard reboot return code will notify the user that a restart of the device will be triggered in 120 minutes. A Soft reboot return code will notify the user that a restart is required to finish the installation.
Intune will force a mandatory device restart – After a successful Win32 app installation the device will be rebooted immediately with no notification.

You get several default return codes. In most cases these return codes will work for you application . . The code configures the post-installation behavior of the Win32 app. If your application uses different access codes, you can use them here. The actions are explained:

Failed – The Failed return code indicates that the Win32 app installation failed.
Hard reboot – The Hard reboot return code indicates that the device is required to restart to complete the installation. Additional Win32 apps cannot be installed on the device without restart. The user will be notified about the required restart.
Soft reboot – The Soft reboot return code indicates that the next Win32 app can be installed without requiring a restart, but a restart is necessary to complete the installation of the installed Win32 app. The user will be notified about the restart.
Retry – The Retry return code indicates that the Win32 app installation is retried three times. The installation will wait for 5 minutes between each attempt.
Success – The Success return code indicates the Win32 app installation was successful.

The third step in the process is to specify the requirements. For the most part these are self-explanatory. You can however use custom requirement types such as specific files, registry settings or even scripts to determine whether an application should be installed or not. I will not be going into detail in this blog. For now, I only choose to install on 64-bit machines with a minimum operating system of Windows 10 1903.

Installation requirements

The fourth step are the detection rules. The detection rules are used to check if the application is present on the device. If the rules are not met Endpoint Manager will try to install the application on the device.

For .exe installations you might decide to just validate if the application is present. In my case I just check if SelfService.exe is present, in the path C:\Program Files (x86)\Citrix\ICA Client\SelfServicePlugin\.

EXE Application detection rule

The fifth step is to create dependency rules. Software dependencies are applications that must be installed before this application can be installed.  Specifically, the device must install the dependent apps before it installs the Win32 app. You can add Win32 app dependencies only after your Win32 app has been added and uploaded to Intune. After your Win32 app has been added, you will see the Dependencies option on the pane for your Win32 app. Any Win32 app dependency needs to also be a Win32 app. It does not support depending on other app types, such as single MSI LOB apps or Microsoft Store apps.

Since this is the first Win 32 app there is no option to create any dependencies. After Citrix Workspace is added a dependency will be created with Acrobat Reader. So, I just select next and I assign the application to a user group, as required.

For Acrobat Reader the steps are the same with a few exceptions. For the detection rules I will use a MSI rule type instead of a file location. Normally the MSI product code is filled in automatically. If this is not the case, you can check your registry settings. For 64-bit machines browse to HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall. Here you will find an overview of all the installed applications. In my case for Acrobat Reader I can find the MSI GUID.

MSI application detection rule
Find the MSI GUID in the Registry settings

Since Citrix Workspace has been added to Endpoint Manger this can be used as a dependency. Acrobat Reader and Citrix are do not require each other to function, this is purely for demonstration purposes. To add a dependency simply select to add a dependency and select the application, in this case CitrixWorkspace.exe. By creating dependencies means that before Acrobat Reader is installed the Citrix Workspace application must be present. If Citrix Workspace is not present Endpoint Manager will install it first.

Application dependencies

Now the configuration is ready, and the applications start deploying to the clients. What happens on the client? Well first the Intune Management Extensions is installed on the client. This extension is used for the installation as well as the deployment of custom PowerShell scripts on devices. You can use the extension for troubleshooting purposes. The log file IntuneManagementExtension.log can be found in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\IntuneManagementExtension\Logs.

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