Sharpe’s….Company Portal

Sharpe’s….Company Portal

In this updated V2 blog, I am going to show you which 3 options you have when you want to deploy and start making use of the Company Portal app. Also, I will point out the differences/important things we need to know about the “Offline” “Online” and Real “Offline” versions.

First some backstory to this blog :). I have written this blog like 2 months ago, but totally forgot to post it. After talking to Jeroen Burgerhout (28-11-2021) I realised I didn't publish it :) ... So I did. But the next day i noticed some stuff I told need some more explanation but due to a dog that needed attention, I didn't had the time. So I updated it late in the evening of 29-11-2021)

I noticed this next question being asked a lot of times

“What’s the difference between offline, online apps? and which or when to use them”

Also, there is still some misunderstanding about it, so I decided to write a blog about it, so here we go!

I am going to divide this blog into multiple parts

  1. How to add the Company Portal (offline / online) to Intune
  2. Adding the Company Portal App (REAL Offline) manually
  3. Important knowledge about the Online, Offline and Real Offline versions
  4. Taking a good look at the Company Portal App installation
  5. Conclusion

But before I am going to show you more about how to install the Company Portal app etc, please read my other blogs about WHY you need to use the Company Portal app

1. How to add the Company Portal to Intune

When we want to add the Company App to our Window 10 AADJ devices we have multiple options at our disposal.

Let’s start with the first the “Offline” And “Online” versions of the company App Portal.

Before we can start deploying the Company Portal App, we first need to establish a connection between the Microsoft Store for Business and Intune/Endpoint Manager. Please beware the Microsoft Store will be retired in the first quarter of 2023, but let’s go further.

Open Intune and browse to Tenant administration/Microsoft Store for Business and click to open the Business store.

Afbeelding met tekst  Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

First, we need to enable Offline Apps. We can do this by clicking on Manage/Settings and switching the button for “Show Offline Apps”. Do you notice that nice Yellow bar with a warning in it?

Now we still need to create the Intune connection. To do this, click on “Distribute” on the same screen and click on “Activate” Microsoft Intune.

Now we are almost ready, but we still need to add the App’s when we have created the connection. To do so, search for the Company Portal in the search bar and click on “get the app”.

Now we are done, don’t forget to click on the sync button on the Tenant Administration screen. When the apps are synced you will notice the Offline and Online Apps will be visible in the Apps section of Intune.

2. Adding the Company Portal App (REAL) Offline manually

There is also another possibility to add the Company Portal App if you don’t want to use the versions pushed by Microsoft for Store Connection.

Do you know what’s funny, even when you choose to deploy the REAL offline app, you also have 2 options to download the APPX files you need!

2.1 Using the Microsoft Store Directly

When you have configured the Microsoft Store for Business, maybe you have clicked on the Offline Company App?

Afbeelding met tekst  Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

As shown above, you can download the files manually!. Let’s go further, when we are choosing this option you need to download ALL of the packages first. After all the files are downloaded go add a new LOB app.

2.2 Using the Microsoft Store Indirectly

When you don’t want to open the Microsoft Store for business, you could still download the required APPX files. How? Just open Microsoft Edge and open this nice website:

https://store.rg-adguard.net/

As shown below, you only need to enter a URL to download the company portal appx Files. (The link is below the Picture)

URL LINK : https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/company-portal/9wzdncrfj3pz?activetab=pivot:overviewtab

2.3 Creating the LOB App

Now start downloading the required Files (Directly or Indirectly) so we can go further and upload these files to start creating your new Company Portal LOB app. Because when you add a new LOB app, you will have the possibility to select/upload an .appxbundle / appx file.

Afbeelding met tekst  Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Now select the Company Portal app you downloaded earlier.

When you have added this app, you will also need to upload the Dependency App files.

After all, files are uploaded, a new LOB app will appear in the App section of Intune

3. Important knowledge about Online, Offline and Real Offline apps

Now we have seen the 3 options we have to deploy the Company Portal App, we still need to learn a little bit more about these versions. But reading and testing it a little bit more there is also a difference between the Company Portal Offline version and the Real Offline version I showed you in part 2.

First, take a look at what Microsoft has to tell about “Offline Apps”. I guess that’s where the misunderstanding is happening!

Voorbeeldweergave van image.png

When looking at the picture above, it looks like the Company Portal (offline) version pushed by the Microsoft Store will be managed by Intune, right? So no automatic updates when we do believe the Microsoft Documentation?

So let’s take off our jacket and take a look at what in my opinion, are the 4 most important things we need to beware of about the Offline, Online Apps and the Real Offline Company Portal.

Sean bean GIF on GIFER - by Anabandis

Important item 1:

Real Offline Apps: These apps DON’T require the Microsoft Store to install the app.

Company Portal Online/Offline App: These apps DO require the Microsoft Store to install the app

Important item 2:

But I am not done yet, as I need to point out another important “thingy” we need to beware of. Like I showed you earlier Microsoft told us that Offline apps will be managed by Intune so does this also counts for the Company Portal offline version?

Real Offline Apps: When first deployed they are managed by Intune and installed by the Intune Management Extension. When the Microsoft Store is NOT available the app WILL NOT automatically be updated.

If the Microsoft Store is AVAILABLE, of course, it will be updated!!. To test it out I deployed an old Real Offline version of the Company App

I enrolled a new VM, waited some time, and opened the Microsoft Store… The Company Portal app just got automatically updated! The same goes for the Company Offline Portal we got from the Microsoft Store for Business connection!

And you don’t have to be afraid that this new up-to-date version will be removed by Intune so that the old version can be installed back again.

Company Portal Online App: When first deployed it is installed by the Microsoft Store for Business and WILL ALWAYS BE Automatically updated by The Microsoft Business Store (Windows Store App)

Important Item 3:

And for me, this is the most important item we need to beware of: User vs Device!

Company Portal “Online”: This one Is always installed during the Account phase of the ESP and don’t support device context assignment so they must be targetted at a USER GROUP

Company Portal “Offline”: This one is installed during the Device Phase of the ESP when the device context was configured.

When using the Company Portal “Offline” version, please, pretty please with sugar on top, don’t forget to assign it to a device group and device license like I am showing below… DO NOT FORGET THIS PART! 🙂

Important Item 4

Installing Offline Apps or Online apps from the Company portal when that user is NOT the primary user of the device. Did you ever try that? If so, I guess this error sounds familiar.

“This device is already assigned to someone in your organization. Contact company support about becoming the primary device user. You can continue to use Company Portal but functionality will be limited.”

So the only thing we could do is remove the “Primary User” for the device to get the device shared

As shown below, when removing the primary user of the device, the device will become shared

And when it’s shared, everyone can install Apps from the Company Portal!

Important Item 5

I received a nice reply on this blog, which is, of course, worth mentioning as an important site.

I also received a Twitter reply about it so… here we go. Do you know what happens with the Company App deployment when the Microsoft Store is removed?

When the Microsoft Store for Business is removed and we don’t have a new solution to deploy the Company Portal app, I guess we need to stick to our Real Offline Company Portal app!

Summary:

And with the User vs Device difference we come to an end with the differences, so let’s sum it up.

When you want to make sure the Company Portal App is installed before the user logs in, you will need to use Autopilot White Glove and the Company Portal “Offline” Version and use the Device License.

When you want to make sure the Company Portal App is installed after the user logs in, you will need to use the Company Portal “Online” version. After your user logs in it will sign in to the Microsoft Store with SSO and the Company app will be installed in the User context

If you are blocking the Microsoft Store like I am showing in this blog below, the Real Offline version is the one you will need.

4. Taking a good look at the Company Portal App Installation

Now we know the difference between how the types of Apps are managed and updated, let’s take a look at which logs we need to take a look at when something failed.

Let’s start with the installation folder… an easy one, as it is always a Windows (Microsoft Store) App it will be installed in the WindowsApps folder inside the Program Files folder:

Online Apps:

When you want to start troubleshooting the install of Online apps, the first thing you will need to do is to start collecting the store logs. You can do this by entering the “wscollect.exe” command (Windows Store Collect)

This will produce a nice .CAB file on your desktop. Open the ReportingEvents.log and take a look at what happens when you install the Online version of the company App Portal.

Real Offline Apps:

But you will notice that with the Offline version, there will be no installation entry inside the ReportingEvents.log. As mentioned earlier the installation of Offline Apps is handled by Intune, so you might think we need to open the IntuneManagementExtension event log.

The IntuneManagementextension event log will log all Apps which are installed by the Intune Management Extension.

Some Advice to beware Of:

To finish the blog, I still have a small piece of advice, when deploying the Offline version of the Company portal app with Windows 10 please make sure you didn’t configure the download modus in Delivery optimization to Bypass mode. Configuring bypass mode will cause the installation of the Company App to fail

Conclusions:

Please note: I have got multiple conclusions… so there are some below the GIF 🙂

So what would be the best choice? The Company Portal Offline, the Company Portal Online version or the Real Offline Company Portal? I guess it all depends on your wishes.

When you really want to make sure the Company Portal App is installed during Autopilot white-glove esp, you will need to choose the Company Portal Offline version (Beware of the device license I showed you earlier!).

Richard Sharpe Sean Bean GIF - Richard Sharpe Sharpe Sean Bean - Discover &  Share GIFs

It really doesn’t matter which version of the Company Portal app you are using, as long as the Microsoft Store isn’t blocked it will be updated!

So which version do I prefer?

For me? When it’s not a shared device, I would still go for the online version of the company Portal app. Why you might ask? 2 reasons I guess.

*I am also seeing a lot of Autopilot white-glove enrollments failing because of the offline version of the company app

*We are not requiring the company portal during the ESP and we are skipping the User Status page most of the times…Within a few minutes after the user logs in it pops up and for me that works pretty pretty fine.

For the people who are afraid of the Microsoft Store and people installing a lot of stuff on their own, when you locked down the Microsoft Store properly, you have nothing to worry about!

P.S. I am aware that there is also a PowerShell script to install the company App portal… but in my opinion, I want to use the Apps section, so I have one pane of what apps are deployed.

3 thoughts on “Sharpe’s….Company Portal

  1. Hey Rudy, thanks for this clarification. There was a lot of information around offline apps but nothing specifically on Company Portal.

    Under the section:
    3. Stuff we need to know about Online, Offline and Real Offline apps

    The first image is not loading.

  2. This is a great blog. I wish I knew all this two months ago. I’ve been going back and forth with MS support to figure out how to get CP installed on Citrix VDI where our admins removed the Company Store with the Citrix optimization tool. Without access to the Store Company portal wouldn’t install. I finally figured out the Real Offline deployment and that seems to have fixed my problem. Although I suspect I’ll have to create new versions of the Real Offline deployment whenever an updated version comes out. I’ve not been able to find a way to install the Microsoft Store once it’s been removed.

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