By Debbie Urman
In Delivering Windows 8 Apps to the Enterprise—Part 1 , Ken Hilker offered various reasons why developers and application producers may be interested in creating installations for Windows 8 apps that are deployed through traditional methods, rather than through the Windows Store.
In today’s part 2 post, I’m providing additional background as well as how-to information on the Windows 8 app support in InstallShield.
Windows Store apps are typically made available through the Windows Store. However, if you are creating a Windows Store app for an enterprise environment, you can use InstallShield to create an installation that installs such apps through a process called sideloading. Sideloading an app is the process of installing an app without obtaining it through the Windows Store. Following are requirements for sideloading apps:
- The target system must have Windows 8 or later or Windows Server 2012 or later.
- The Allow all trusted applications to install group policy setting must be enabled on the target system.
For more details, see Windows 8 Sideloading Requirements.
InstallShield 2012 Spring SP1 Premier Edition lets you add sideloading app packages (.appx) to a Suite/Advanced UI installation. You can also include in your installation any dependencies that the sideloading app requires, and have your installation add them to target systems before sideloading your app package. If you plan on delivering sideloading app packages as well as traditional desktop applications, you can add both to your Suite/Advanced UI installation, and include a wizard page that lets end users choose whether they want to install one of them or both.
Note that InstallShield cannot be used to create installations that sideload Windows Store apps on to Windows RT (Windows on ARM) devices.
To add an .appx package to your Suite/Advanced UI project:
- In the View List under Organization, click Packages.
- Right-click the Packages explorer and then click New Sideloading App Package (.appx).
The Select the installation file for this package dialog box opens.
- Select the .appx file that you want to add to your Suite/Advanced UI project, and then click Open. The Add Files for This Package dialog box opens.
- Specify whether you want to include additional folders and files with your package file, and if so, whether you want to include dynamically linked files. Typically an .appx package is self-contained, and it requires only the .appx file and possibly the certificate file (.cer).
InstallShield adds the package, plus any additional folders and files, in the Packages explorer. Configure the package’s settings as needed.
When you add a sideloading app package to a Suite/Advanced UI project, InstallShield automatically adds an eligibility condition for that package to check for the presence of Windows 8 or later or Windows Server 2012 or later. This eligibility condition ensures that the Suite/Advanced UI installation does not attempt to add the package to systems that have earlier versions of Windows.
Sideloading support is available in InstallShield 2012 Spring SP1. To obtain SP1, see knowledge base article Q208466: InstallShield 2012 Spring Service Pack 1. Support for Suite/Advanced UI projects is available in the Premier Edition of InstallShield.