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Windows Intune – recently renamed Microsoft Endpoint Manager – is a cloud management solution for desktop and mobile devices, including those running Windows 10, as well as Mac OS X, iPhones and Android devices. I have been saying for a decade that it is essentially System Center Configuration Manager (also recently renamed, now Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager) in the cloud; it does so much of the job of that tool, without the need to be connected to the on-premises network (whether physically or by VPN).
One of the functionalities it is taking on is application deployment. We have been using SCCM (now MECM) to deploy applications for longer than I have been using that tool, but with the advent of co-management and cloud management environments, and with so many end users now working from home, it is time to consider deploying applications from the cloud.
I should mention that this has been possible for the past decade. The fact that we are discussing it now should not be interpreted as ‘this is a new functionality that we can finally do from Intune.’ It is done a little differently than it was from Config Manager though, and the applications have to be wrapped somewhat differently.
Of course, if you are deploying Modern Apps – those available from the Windows Store (or Windows Store for Business) – then you do not need to ‘wrap’ your applications. This process is for Win32 applications.
Preparing the App
For the sake of this article, all of my components will be under c:\ITP (InTune Prep).
Step 1: Download the Microsoft Win32 Content Prep Tool. The link is here, and there is no cost involved. There is, however, a license involved. Make sure you review that (as I am sure you all always do without being told).
Step 2: Prepare your destination directory (or directories). For the sake of this article, I have created c:\ITP\IntuneApps for the destination files (.intunewin files).
Step 3: Prepare your source files. The prep tool does package the entire source directory, so I strongly recommend you do not simply leave it in your Downloads directory. For the sake of this article, we will use Snagit, a screen capture and screen recording package from TechSmith that I am quite fond of. I am placing the source file (snagit2021.exe) in the directory c:\ITP\Snagit-Source.
Now that your prep work is done, we can run our prep tool. If you run the command on its own, you will be prompted for information. That’s okay… but here I will use the command line switches:
IntuneWinAppUtil.exe –c c:\ITP\Snagit-Source –s snagit2021.exe –o c:\ITP\IntuneApps\
For this application and with my CPU, the process took a little under 30 seconds. You can watch the video in real time here:
At the end of the video, you will see I navigated to the destination directory (c:\ITP\IntuneApps\) and verified that my packaged file is there – snagit2021.intunewin.
Publishing the App
Now that my application has been packaged, I need to publish it to my Intune environment. Let’s navigate there at https://endpoint.microsoft.com.
In the navigation pane, click on Apps.
In the Apps | Overview navigation pane that appears click Windows.
In the Windows | Windows apps screen, click +Add in the menu along the top. The Select app type sidebar will appear. From the dropdown menu, select Windows app (Win32). Click Select.
In the Add App screen, click Select app package file. The App package file sidebar will appear. You can navigate to the directory and file on your local computer. You should see this:
In the App Information screen, you can modify the application name, description, and other information that will help your users. In our case, I gave it a friendly name, added a logo, modified the description, and added a number of categories and other bits of information that will help the user. When you are done, click Next.
In the Program screen that appears next, you can specify the install and uninstall commands, as well as installation and restart behaviors. This will vary by application, but will be similar to the command line switches you used to package your Config Manager apps. Click Next.
In the Requirements screen you can select the OS architecture (32-bit, 64-bit, or both), the minimum OS version required, disk space, memory, CPUs, and any additional rules the advanced user might wish to configure. Click Next.
In the Detection Rules screen, you must select the rules format. For this example, I am using a manual rule, checking that the destination directory exists. To do so, I am selecting the following:
1) In the Rules format dropdown, I select Manually configure detection rules.
2) I click +Add.
In the Detection rule sidebar that appears:
* Rule type: File
* Path: c:\Program Files\Techsmith
* File or folder: Snagit 2021
* Detection method: File or folder exists
* Associated with a 32-bit app on 64-bit clients: No
Click OK, then click Next.
In the Dependencies screen you can add any app dependencies. In the Supersedence (preview) screen you can select if an application is being upgraded or replaced. In both of these I am leaving them blank, so click Next on each screen.
In the Assignments screen you can select which groups your application will be pushed to, available for, or uninstalled from. Again, we cannot do this by individual user, but we can do it be groups, all users, or all devices.
On the Review + Create screen, you can make sure you have not made any mistakes. If you did, you can take this opportunity to click on the Previous button at the bottom and correct them. If you are good with what you did…
Of course it will not happen automatically… a 300MB+ file will need to upload completely. Once it is done, you can start deploying, and you will also be able to see the status of all of those deployments.
Installing the App
Now, when logged in as a user who is a member of one of the assigned groups, I will see the application listed:
When I click on it, I see the following… along with the option to install.
When I click on Install, the download will start, and it will install quietly behind the scenes.
So we have gone through creating the package, uploading it and configuring it into Intune, and installing it to a computer. Later, I will cover upgrading applications. For now, go forth and deploy!