Windows Photo App and High Efficiency Image File Format (.heic) in AVD

I am sure I'm not the only one who has struggled with this but apparently the Win10 EVD multi-session images in Azure don't have the codecs for HEIF files (.heic images and .hevc videos).  Needless to say, we have been bouncing around trying to find a "good" app to open these files on AVD session hosts which is frustrating because on a desktop its already included and installed and works just fine.  

I also have a different and separate frustration with dealing with AppxPackages (UWP apps).  Needless to say, I recently spent quite a few hours digging into WHY the codecs are not there (or go missing randomly) and what to do other than trying to use the 99 cent extension from the Windows App Store.  

The same "HEVC Video Extensions" are available in the Microsoft Volume License portal (which has moved to the M365 Admin portal).  It is an ISO you can download that contains the installer for the extension.  After installing it and ensuring the other FREE extensions from the Windows App Store (HEIFImage, AV1Video, WebMedia, and maybe one other) are installed the Windows Photo app opened the .heic files right away on my session hosts.  

The name of the ISO in the volume license downoads is:  SW_DVD5_HEVC_Codec_64BIT_MultiLang_-11_MLF_X23-60420.ISO

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Comments (13 comments)

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Dave Stephenson

Good find, Phil Long!

That's a LOT of hoops to jump through.
Do you know if the latest Windows 10 22H2 and Windows 11 23H2 images have that same problem?
Or, is it possible to deploy the apps/codecs through Intune?

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Phil Long

Im not sure about Win11, I only have Win10 session hosts deployed but I know 22H2 does display the same issue.  The codec installer is an MSI so you can certainly deploy it using Intune but i just ran it on the Desktop Image.  

 

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Phil Long

The other thing I am struggling with is using/maintaining UWP/Appx/Windows Store apps in session hosts.  At what seems like random times those apps will just be "missing" for users.  We then have to go in and run the powershell commands to reiniitalize the app then users have to open them once before the app becomes avaiable to them again and can set it as the default app again (Windows Photo mostly but Calculator as well).  

Does ANYONE have any good info on this?  Ive spent an unkown amount of HOURS searching through documentation and forum posts but the only thing I ever find is how to reinstall and I need to know how to prevent it.  

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Dave Stephenson

Hmm. This gets more and more "interesting" (a.k.a. odd).
I know Robert was asking about the Windows Photo as a scripted action (Running a script with the checkbox for pass AD credentials checked $ADUsername and $ADPassword – Nerdio Help Center (getnerdio.com)) that may or may not help you out.

I'm wondering if you reimage the host on a scheduled basis if that problem will go away? 🤔

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Graham Jones
(Edited )

Hey Phil,

I've battled with this issue for a long time and the best solution I've come across is upgrading to Windows 11, which may or may not be possible for you in your case. A workaround for some Windows 10 images I had implemented for the photos app was a logon script to launch and kill the photos app so the app would initialize itself for the user, this had mostly positive results though there were some cases where users had to go in and manually launch photos. 

I never did find a concrete answer in my search either but I believe the issue stems from updates to Microsoft store based apps, my only clue was for the photos app specifically the user would have a notification prompt sitting in the app needing to be clicked on before they could continue. 

Edit: To reiterate the workaround I mentioned would be for apps appearing to be missing on the user's end rather than the video codec, but upgrading to a new Win11 image solved both issues for me 

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Phil Long

Thanks Grahm, I've been avoiding Win11 on any of our session hosts for as absolutely long as possible.  I do think the version of the app has something to do with it.  Even though FSLogix is supposed to be keeping track of the isntalled appx packages for each user if the version number is different, it won't be able to register it successfully.  

My next step is to look at some kind of scripting to reinstall/update specific apps on system startup.  

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Emily Frank

We ended up downloading Image Glass for those files. works like a charm

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Phil Long

Emily Frank that was our route too and it does work well but apparently the newer version of Image Glass have been known to spread malware of some sort.  I havent done my research on it but i have seen metion of reports of it misusing a reverse proxy or something like that.  

its on my list to remove and replace with something else on all of our RDS Servers (outside of NMM and AVD enviornemnts). 

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Erik

Adding commentary here because this frustrates me greatly.

My clients like Sticky Notes, Photos, Calculator, and the like as part of their daily workflow. I don't mind using standalone / different apps but my clients really DON'T like it.

As noted, while using W10 Enterprise 22H2 multisession, Windows Store apps will "randomly" decide not to appear on certain session hosts.

We have had to resort to using Windows Scripts during provision / boot time akin to this:

$parameters = @{
    Name = '<ApplicationName>'
    ResourceGroupName = '<ResourceGroupName>'
    ApplicationGroupName = '<ApplicationGroupName>'
    FilePath = 'shell:appsFolder\Microsoft.MicrosoftStickyNotes_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App'
    CommandLineSetting = '<Allow|Require|DoNotAllow>'
    IconIndex = '0'
    IconPath = '<IconPath>'
    ShowInPortal = $true
 }

New-AzWvdApplication @parameters

 

This seems to work but it's quite painful considering this is something that ideally should "just work".

 

When trying winget as an alternative install method (also at provision/reboot time), the script can't actually find winget.... Not sure if it's a path issue or something else.

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Phil Long

Im currently working through a script myself to run at vm creation(s) to use winget to process a list of apps and isntall them if they are not there. 

Ive also recently deployed my first Win11 session AND seems to happen there as well.  Must be something in the sysprep process that identifies an oddity and removes the AppxPackage provisiong?  Outside the conversation of the issues in a multi-user environment I REALLY REALLY dont understand why Microsoft decided to keep going with these style apps.  Between the New Teams and trying to "maintain" things like Calculator and Sticky Notes, its almost ALL I HAVE DONE for 2 weeks!

If i get to a reliable script for what im doing i will share it here.   

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Dave Stephenson

I'm curious if anyone has tried the Nerdio Unified Application Management as an alternative to the PowerShell/Winget route that Erik is going down?
It's been a bit since I tested it out, but every app I tried to deploy worked without errors.
There was one app we deployed (I can't remember which one now) that didn't create shortcuts, but that was a minor inconvenience we worked around fairly easily.

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Phil Long

The UAM isn't compatible with the Microsoft Store yet (something to do with the API's for accessing the source respositories).  If you have a different repository to link that holds the apps you need it would probably work just fine.  

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Erik

"Im currently working through a script myself to run at vm creation(s) to use winget to process a list of apps and isntall them if they are not there. "

Phil, let me know if you can share some of the WinGet goodness. I can't get it to work as a scripted action since winget doesn't really allow you to run as "system"...

 

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