Working with apps in Intune for Education

In this second post about Intune for Education we will look into one of the features in detail: Application deployment. In some cases its very similar to the full Intune experience, and in other ways it differs. Focus is, as with Intune for Education in general, to keep it as easy as possible.

We will look into the four different application/app types and ill show you how to add a new app from each type.

We will touch on Windows Store for Business, or in this case Microsoft Store for Education. You can read my, now old, post on Windows Store for Business to get a bit more background – but ill write a new, updated, one in a near future. Ok, let’s get started!

In the Intune for Education portal, navigate to the “Apps” page:

Apps_Page

As you can (if you scroll down a bit on the page) we have four different app-types to work with: Web Apps, Store Apps, Local Apps and Office 365.

Quick Add

At the top you also have a “Quick add popular apps” button, which could be good start – at least in the UK and US.

Click the button and you’ll be presented with a number of popular Web and Store apps that you very quickly can add to your application repository.

QuickAdd

Simply select the once you like and add them using the “Adds apps” button below.

AddQuick

You may notice that the Web apps are added pretty instantly, but the Store apps may require a few minutes to show up. You can go to this link to learn more, but it really depends on Microsoft Store for Education and the synchronization between it and Intune. We will go into this shortly (and more deeply in an upcoming post) when we look at adding additional Store Apps.

Usually this doesn’t take more than a few minutes. But the selection may not be appropriate for your grade, school or country. So lets head down to the first application type – Web Apps.

Web Apps

Web Apps are actually very useful in its simplicity. It’s a web link that shows up in the Start Menu of the assigned users. This makes it easy to distribute useful links to web apps, pages and perhaps even intranet sites. As with all apps (regardless of distribution tool or platform) I highly recommend that you always add an icon to your app. It makes it a lot more user-friendly and to be honest, it looks a lot better.

To add a Web app, simply click “New App” in the Web Apps section.

Add the URL you want, give the app a name (this is how the app will be presented in the Start Menu and in Intune) and add an icon in .jpg or .png format. It’s really easy and creates a nice user experience.

When deployed to a user it will show up quickly and requires very little bandwidth to add – and could be easier than adding favorites.

 

Store Apps

Next in line are Store Apps. Theses are “Modern” Windows Apps from Microsoft Store for Education. So it’s there we have to start. When you click “New App” in the Store Apps section you will be transferred to the MS4E site. If it’s the first time you visit it you will have to sign a EULA to get access.

Agreement.JPG

Once you’ve done that you are in!

StoreApp2.JPG

Intune for Education may not be that old, but things have already been improved since I started of with the preview-edition. Previously you were required to manually add Intune as a distribution software to synchronize apps, but now that has been automated. However, it’s always good to verify that it has worked as intended – and also know where to look if you would like to turn the Sync of, add another MDM or just show of to your colleagues.

Under Manage/Settings/Distribute you’ll find “Management tools” were Microsoft Intune should be preconfigured and set to “Active”. If not, activate it.

Distribution

Now, lets head back to the start page by clicking “Shop for my school” and then find an app you would like to distribute. You can either browse the recommended apps, search for one or add your own apps – but that’s another blog post. In this example we’ll add Microsoft Translator. It can be added both for Online and Offline distribution – but we are focusing on the Online scenario.

StoreApp3

Click “Get the app” and you “order” will be placed and added to your inventory.

StoreApp4

Now the page changes slightly and you can see that you have new options:

  • Install lets you install the app to your local PC via the Store App. You’ll need a Microsoft or Azure AD account to do that.
  • Manage is mostly used when you distribute apps without an additional MDM to manage it. You can also view who is using a particular license for an app – probably most useful when the app isn’t free – but it gives you more insight in how it’s used.
  • Add to private store lets you add the app to your schools private (curated) Store. That’s a great way to give your students a self-service option.

In our case its enough just to “purchase” the app. Now we can head back to the Intune for Education portal to synchronize the apps.

StoreApp5

In “Tenant Settings” (the tools icon to the left) you have a manual synchronization button. Usually the automated sync runs every few minutes – but if you are in a hurry you can always force it.

SyncWithStore

You’ll get a small message in the top right corner that lets you now that the sync request has been sent.

SyncWithStore2

Then go back to the “Apps” page and see if your new app has been added. If not, refresh the page and view the “Last Sync” status at the top of the Store Apps section. I’ll go into the Microsoft Store for Education more in-depth in an upcoming post.

SyncWithStore3

Local apps

Local apps are application that we are used to install on our PC:s. They are locally installed applications that usually comes in .exe or .msi format. The good thing about Web apps and Store apps are that you don’t need to manage them once they are deployed. That’s being taken care of in the Store of by the organization managing the web app. But many schools, or organizations in general, still have old applications left that are still useful.

In the Intune for Education (and Intune in general) case we are currently only able to deploy single MSI-files. This needs to be taken into consideration when creating the deployment package, as we can’t use a mst, .cab or any other kind of file in addition to the .msi file. If you that reads this feel that this is something you aren’t familiar with, just post a comment and I’ll help you out. Or, if possible, contact your own IT-staff and ask them to help you out.

The experience is fairly similar to the Web Apps – but we need to supply the file we want to install as well as a command line. The command line bit is something I find strange. Using the Intune Azure portal (the “regular one”) and creating the equivalent Line-of-business application – you are not required to add a command line, just additional command line arguments. In Intune for Education you are however required to add SOMETHING, but not the entire command line. In most cases a simple /qn will do fine – but again please let me know if you would like any additional help.

Again, I advice you to actually add a brief description, publisher and icon – it does make a difference for the end-users and it’s always better to do the job right from the start.

7zip_withCMD

When you are done with the app, the .msi will be uploaded (you have 2 GB of free storage to start with – and you can add more if you like later on) and you will get a small notification when its done.

7zip_done

One last thing to remember for the local apps – once you have uploaded a file, you can’t change it. So, if you want to update the application, change it or replace the file – you need to create a new application for that.

Office 365

This last one isn’t really an app-type as such. It’s basically a way to deploy the locally installed Office-package (Office 365 ProPlus) without any customization. It will be good enough for many, but if you like to have your own custom installer there are ways to achieve that as well. The configuration of this app-type is very, very, easy. It’s a matter of on or off.

Assigning apps

Now when we have added the apps and/or application we would like to use its time to assign them. You can either use the Express Configuration again or simply choose an app, select “Groups” and click “Change groups assignments”. In the page that opens you are able to select and de-select groups to assign the app to.

assign1

And just to be clear: Assign means that you will force the application to install on all PCs, that are controlled by Intune for Education, users inside that group logs on to.

assign2

When you have chosen the groups you like, click save and wait. I’ll go into the user-experience on the client side in an upcoming post, together with some basic client-side troubleshooting.

I hope that this gives you a few pointers on where to start and where to go. If you have any questions, please let me know! More blog post on Intune for Education will follow!

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Posted in Application Management, Azure, Education, Intune, Microsoft, The Basics, Windows 10, Windows Store for Business

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