Microsoft 365 Business Tech Series Videos – Windows Application Deployment
In late June I was approached to record some short technical overview videos on Microsoft 365 Business, and now that they are recorded and published, it’s time to review them, and provide some additional resources and any important updates since the content was created. This is the ninth video in the series, and the focus is on Windows 10 application deployment.
Microsoft 365 Business uses Intune as the application deployment mechanism for Windows 10 devices, and the deployment types we can use are Microsoft Store apps, single file MSIs and PowerShell scripts to drive application installs. Starting off with Microsoft Store apps, my recommendation here is to configure the integration of Microsoft Store for Business and Intune so that you can start adding apps to private store, and then synchronise them via Intune.
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Once the app list has synchronised, you can choose the groups that you want the apps assigned to, and one of my go to moves here is to add the Company Portal and assign it so that all enrolled devices receive it. Because it's Windows 10 Pro that we are managing with Microsoft 365 Business, we can't hide the consumer elements of the online store and make it private store only. This means that the Company Portal is a good way to show available apps without the distraction of the consumer store.
If the Office 365 Business deployment defaults that the Microsoft 365 Admin Center provides don't meet your needs, you've got the ability to create your own deployments with the Intune. You might have some users who need different language options, or perhaps even 64 bit installs versus 32 bit. The thing that you will note is that you will see it referred to as Office 365 Pro Plus. You can safely ignore that Pro Plus piece as it's the user's license that will determine the appropriate functionality anyway.
The next option for deployment is to use a single file MSI installer. If your ISV provides this natively, you are off to a good start. If not, you will have to use a packaging tool to capture the install process into the single file. This approach isn't perfect, there is extra work involved, and if you have a large library of apps to repackage this can be time consuming. However, if you don't have man apps that need repackaging this isn't something that will overwhelm.
Last but not least, the final option is to use the Intune Script Extension. This allows you to run PowerShell scripts, and can be used for many bridging scenarios including app deployment. You could build the script to do the installation from an on-premises file server if needed, you could even combine it with the Offie Deployment Tool to drive network installs of Office 365 Business and then allowing those installs to do pull updates down from Microsoft's content distribution points. If you have already got a variety of app deployment scripts pre-built that you have been running on-premises there may not be much involved in getting them working with Intune.
You can see that based on the different options we have here you should be able to deploy almost anything out to Windows 10 PCs that are being managed by Microsoft 365 Business, but there is going to be some work on your side. Over time these approaches will become second nature, so there's a learning curve to begin with as it's not the same approach that you may have used previously, but you can still leverage some of those skills with these deployment methods.