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MSIX Hero 2.0 (Preview)

MSIX Hero is now available in a preview version 2.0. Although the build is quite stable and there are just a few minor issues, it is not yet intended to be used in production. Version 2.0 must be downloaded separately, and it installs side-by-side with 1.x release. Continue reading to find out what has changed and how to get started.

For a time being only MSIX download is available – there is no .appinstaller support yet.

Summary of changes in 2.0

  1. New UI
  2. Dashboard
  3. Ability to start any entry point
  4. Command-line generator
  5. Sorting and grouping by installation date
  6. New Event Viewer
  7. Other changes

New UI

The first and the most visible change is the new UI. I decided to move away from classic ribbon-based UI, and instead try to implement a more “fresh” UI, which takes less screen space and thanks to the principles of Fluent Design better exposes available functions and places of interest.

A new default screen with the information about the last update will be shown after initial start of MSIX Hero. It is shown once for each update – the next time MSIX Hero starts it goes directly to the screen of your choice. You can also disable the Welcome screen from the Settings menu.

The default view should look like this:

The basic navigation patterns are the same – use the left menu with icons to change between Dashboard, Packages, Volumes, Events and System. Use the search bar to perform quick as-you-type filtering of the currently displayed list (if applicable). The most important options have dedicated buttons on the top bar, all functions can be also accessed from the context menu. You can toggle between USER and MACHINE packages by pressing the blue badge next to the search bar. Sorting, filtering and grouping is also available – to open the panel simply press the filter icon located over the package list.

There is a little nice visual touch – the background in the right panel uses the color and tile pattern from the currently selected app. Try selecting different apps to see how it reacts.

By the way, several less-used menu items are now less prominently exposed, but still available by pressing the three dots menu on the right:

Dashboard

MSIX Hero 1.x had several useful tools for various purposes, but they were difficult to discover because they were essentially scattered over several places, ribbons and tabs. In this build, there is now a single place to see them:

Ability to start any entry point

In MSIX Hero 1.x it was possible to “start” an application. MSIX Hero would choose the most appropriate entry point and have it started. This might have been not quite what the user wanted in case of apps with many entry points. In version 2.0, things have been improved by the introduction of the new Start menu. To access it, select any app and click on the Start toggle button in the top action bar:

This menu consolidates several other menus from MSIX Hero 1.x. You have an option to pick any entry point (and the badge next to it shows the type of the app – whether it is a classic Win32 EXE, UWP or maybe even a Progressive Web App). The bottom part of the new menu shows the commands which can be executed in the package context. As always, you can customize the commands by visiting the Settings dialog.

Command-line generator

MSIX Hero has a command line interface which covers most of operations available through dialogs. In this build, some of dialogs support a new switch that shows the equivalent of the current settings with the use of silent command line interface. In the dialogs that already support this functionality, tick the following checkbox:

to reveal a command line textbox. You can continue to change the options and preferences, and the command line will be automatically recreated. For example, this is how signing command line can be automated:

If you prefer to first test the settings out, simply execute the action and wait for the confirmation screen to be shown. The command will be shown there:

Sorting and grouping by the installation date

In the main package list, MSIX Hero 2.0 displays installation dates instead of package architecture.

Additional sorting, filtering and grouping options have been added to change the view regarding each app’s installation date. To access the menu, locate the filter icon in the top right corner and press it to show all options:

New Event Viewer

The complete Event Viewer tab has been redesigned from scratch. It has now a common master-detail layout, and shows much more interesting information for each event. One benefit of using this list over a system viewer is that MSIX Hero extracts the names of affected packages, so that you can quickly locate events affecting particular products. Also in version 2.0, error codes (if any present) are extracted from the description and shown directly in the list:

Other changes in 2.0 (Preview)

  • Improved performance and faster initial start.
  • Resolved some minor issues where changing specific values in dialogs would not refresh the state of OK and Apply buttons.
  • Added toast notifications displayed after installing or removing an app.
  • It is possible to select the default screen that is opened when MSIX Hero starts (default is the Packages screen).
  • Many other minor fixes and optimizations.

Next steps and milestones

There are still some functional changes and new features coming to version 2.0 which will be announced in next posts. Some other important milestones that I plan for 2.x (not necessarily 2.0, but still not far away from it):

  • Moving to .NET 5.0
  • Changing the model from Closed-Source to Open Source.

Known issues

  • Command line support for opening a concrete MSIX package is not yet implemented.
  • In Event Viewer, opening the system viewer is not implemented yet. This used to be possible with the old version.
  • Also in Event Viewer, the content of the current selection does not have vertical scrollbars and the content may be cut on smaller window sizes.
  • There is a rare issue with VMware Workstation, where the complete application chrome window is displayed partially transparent. The investigation is pending, for a time being disabling 3d acceleration seems to solve the issue. Hyper-V is unaffected from this.
  • Importing a certificate from a file is not yet implemented – the button for this feature is there but disabled.
  • Ability to change between list view with columns and a simple list is gone and will not be re-implemented. Sorting and filtering is now accessible from a dedicated menu.
  • Some dialogs may become partially transparent while doing background operations.
  • This build has a different package name to enable side-by-side installation with 1.x branch. Because of that, user settings will not be shared between both branches. This is not going to be fixed for preview builds, once 2.0 is stable and ready to go it will revert back to the original name, and the settings will be automatically taken over from the 1.x branch.

Feedback

Feedback, issues and ideas are always welcome. Get in touch using the e-mail address shown in page footer.

Download

The new version installs side-by-side with 1.x branch, so that the existing configuration and other settings of MSIX Hero will not be touched. For a time being only MSIX download is available – there is no .appinstaller support yet.

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