Microsoft Takes Another Step Back From Its App Store

Posted on January 10, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 31 Comments

Last year, I wondered openly whether the Microsoft Store—Windows 10’s app store—was on the way out. Since then, the software giant has taken some decisive steps towards that once-imagined future. At Build 2019, it revealed that so-called Store apps—which now encompass several kinds of apps—would no longer need to be distributed from the Microsoft Store in Windows 10. And now we’ve learned that Microsoft is killing off the business- and education-based versions of the store.

News of the demise of the Microsoft Store for Business and the Microsoft Store for Education comes via the reliable Mary Jo Foley, whose sources say that these stores are now deprecated as “the company works to undo past Windows 10 app-distribution mistakes.”

To be clear, Microsoft hasn’t publicly acknowledged the changes. But Foley says that they will either be announced or implemented by the end of the software giant’s fiscal year, or June 30, 2020.

The trick here, of course, is that the one thing the various Microsoft Store variants have done well is serve as a place for downloads that were explicitly trusted by Microsoft. Kevin Gallo, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for the Windows developer platform, and the person most directly in charge of this part of the company, told Foley last year that he was still trying to figure out another way to communicate to users that apps could be trusted.

Given past miscommunications—the press was told at Build 2019 that UWP, Microsoft’s Windows 10-only development framework was “dead,” something the firm has not admitted publicly—I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that there’s no announcement about these changes, and that the two stores are simply quietly deprecated.

Regardless, these changes have me wondering anew about the Microsoft Store, which has never risen to the prominence of popular app stores like those from Apple and Google. I still believe that the Store is a good idea, but its lack of success is undeniable. As are the moves that Microsoft is making to ensure that trusted apps can be found and installed from elsewhere.

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