Evolving the Microsoft Store for Business and Education

Published Jul 21 2021 08:00 AM 11.8K Views
Microsoft

Today, we are announcing exciting plans that bring together the management capabilities of Microsoft Endpoint Manager, the new Microsoft Store, and the flexibility of Windows Package Manager. These plans enhance the new Microsoft Store experience that is coming soon to both Windows 11 and Windows 10.

Your suggestions matter

You told us you wanted a way to control which apps and games were being downloaded by the users in your organization. We created the Microsoft Store for Business and Microsoft Store for Education, enabling you to make specific apps available in your own private store. We linked the Microsoft Store for Business and Microsoft Store for Education to their respective Intune and Intune for Education cloud services to make it easier for you to deliver Store apps to your endpoints using the same tools you were already using to manage devices.

And now we're addressing your feedback in other areas:

Starting in the first half of 2022 you will be able to find applications from the entire breadth of the Microsoft Store catalog and deploy to your managed devices all from within Microsoft Intune, or your unified endpoint management (UEM) solution. This will include support for all the new (and existing) app types coming to the new Microsoft Store including Win32, .NET, Universal Windows Platform (UWP), and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).

For unmanaged devices, you can also use the new WinGet command-line tool within Windows Package Manager to find and install your apps.

Given the new experiences outlined in this post, we are also announcing that the Microsoft Store for Business and Microsoft Store for Education as you know them today will be retired in the first quarter of 2023. You may continue to use the current capabilities for free apps until that time. There will be no support for Microsoft Store for Business and Education on Windows 11. However, admins can still leverage the connection to Store for Business and Education, from their UEM solution to deploy apps to managed Windows 11 devices, until they are retired in 2023. Please stay tuned for more information once the preview mentioned above will be available for your evaluation.

The next evolution: Windows Package Manager, the new Microsoft Store,  and Microsoft Intune

At Microsoft Build 2020, we announced Windows Package Manager, which enables developers to discover, install, upgrade, remove, and configure applications on Windows 10. We followed up in May of 2021 with the availability of Windows Package Manager v1.0 and support for Group Policy.

Windows Package Manager is an open set of APIs that can integrate with any unified endpoint management solution, including Intune. Organizations can also choose to integrate directly with these APIs to build their own solution to meet their needs and for unmanaged devices.

The WinGet command-line tool is the front end, or client interface, of the Windows Package Manager service, which itself is a comprehensive solution consisting of a command-line tool and a set of additional services for installing and managing apps on Windows 10.

Today, we are pleased to announce the next step of this evolution.

First, you can still centrally manage apps and deploy them to your Windows 10—and, later this year, Windows 11—endpoints. Windows Package Manager can simplify the process.

  • Public apps (apps publicly available from an independent software vendor): Use Windows Package Manager via the winget command-line tool to query the single catalog of public apps, through the new Microsoft Store, for apps built by third-party ISV developers regardless of app framework and packaging technology – including Win32, .NET, UWP, Xamarin, Electron, Reactive Native, Java, and PWAs.
  • Private apps (internal line-of-business apps): Use Windows Package Manager via the winget command-line tool to query your private app repository.

Then comes the best part. When ready, you can then use Intune or your UEM solution to easily manage both your public and private application catalogs.

We plan to release these capabilities for preview in the first half of the 2022 calendar year, and the general availability is targeted for second half of 2022. Subscribe to the Windows IT Pro Blog for future announcements.

How we’re getting there

As we build on Windows Package Manager, there are some key milestones that we are working toward to improve the overall commercial app management experience:

  • Windows Package Manager v1.0: generally available
  • Intune integration with Windows Package Manager service, your private app repository, and the new Microsoft Store: Public Preview (Expected H1 2022)
  • Intune integration with Windows Package Manager service, your private app repository, and the new Microsoft Store: General availability (Expected H2 2022)
  • Retirement of Microsoft Store for Business and Education for Windows 10: expected Q1 2023

How can I prepare for these new experiences?

If you work with independent software vendors, please remind them to submit their apps to the new Microsoft Store by visiting https://aka.ms/NewStore.

We'll have more information on how to create your local private app repository of internal business applications soon.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Will paid apps be supported by this new approach?

A: No. As we announced on April 14, 2021, only apps with a price of “free” are available for procurement. This will remain in effect with this new approach.

Q: Will existing Group Policy settings and CSP policies related to the Store continue to work on Windows 10?

A: Yes. You will still have the ability to turn off the Store app on Windows 10.

Q: Can my end users access my local private app repository from the Store?

A: You will be able to provide your end users access to your local private app repository via Company Portal on Microsoft Endpoint Manager or your UEM solution. The Store will no longer show private, organizationally curated applications.

Q: I am currently using the Store for private line-of-business apps built by a software vendor or in-house developer. Will those continue to work in the new solution?

A: Line-of-business apps will need to be migrated to your local private app repository before the retirement of the Microsoft Store for Business in Q1 2023. We will provide more details on how to do this migration for you and your ISV in the near future. Apps that have already been assigned and deployed to endpoints will continue to work after the retirement of the Store for Business as long as they are not removed from the device.

Q: How will app updates work in this new solution?

A: MSIX apps from the Microsoft Store will still be automatically updated. Other installer types or MSIX apps distributed directly from Microsoft Endpoint Manager can be updated by Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

Q: How will apps in this repository be signed? Do I need to manage code signing for my internal applications now?

A: Apps for your local private repository will be signed like any other code in your enterprise. You can leverage your own code signing certificate, a certificate from a trusted third-party partner, or Device Guard Signing Service v2.

Q: Will all of the apps in the Microsoft Store for Business today be supported with this new approach?

A: All free apps in the Microsoft Store for Business today will be supported with this new approach. Please check with your software vendor if you have any questions.

Q: Can I control what my end users see in my local private app repository?

A: Through Microsoft Endpoint Manager, or the APIs available to other UEM solutions, you can choose what apps are available or mandatory for your organization.

Q: What happens to the apps I already distributed to my organization after the Microsoft Store for Business is retired?

A: Applications that are already assigned and deployed to end user devices, including free and paid applications, will continue to work as long as the app is not removed from the device.

Q: Where can I learn more about these new APIs?

A: We will provide more information in our documentation as it becomes available. Please refer to the timeline in this blog.

Q: Where will I be able to manage my existing Minecraft subscriptions?

A: Minecraft: Education Edition subscriptions will be available in the Microsoft 365 admin center for management.

Q: How does the Windows Package Manager service work with Microsoft Endpoint Manager?

A: We will provide more information as it becomes available prior to the public preview of the Intune integration in 2022.

Q: Where can I find more information about the new Microsoft Store?

A: Get started today by visiting https://aka.ms/NewStore.

 

17 Comments
Occasional Contributor

Hi Joe, it'd be great if you could boil this down into something easily consumable and that could be shared with IT management to help build out roadmaps.  Most larger enterprises have at least one of:

 

  1. Windows Store for Business (or just the store)
  2. Configuration Manager with the Software Center
  3. Intune / Endpoint Management with the Company Portal

 

When all is said and done, where do you see the single portal for all applications being?  It sounds like we're saying the Company Portal (Intune), but does that mean that we'll not only have our WS4B apps in there but also our Configuration Manager apps, or does this not change the multi-portal problem?

 

Aside from that, any thoughts from Microsoft on improving approval workflows on software requests or do we still need to home grow or go third party for the near term?

New Contributor

Incredibly frustrating. I've provided feedback how to make it better, and I just wanted it better, not taken away.

Contributor

Just to be clear there will be "NO" way to distribute paid apps via MEM / Intune or buy licenses for those on behalf of users / students? 

New Contributor

Hypothetical question: let's say I run a small marketing agency, and used the Store for Business to purchase 50 licenses each for Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher. At $50 a license, that's $7,500 total. With these changes, are you saying that I won't be able to use these licenses on Windows 11 devices, or Windows 10 devices acquired after the store shutdown, and that I'll need to purchase these apps again as computers are replaced?

New Contributor

Will there be any integration of Windows Package Manager into Configuration Manager?

Microsoft

IRT Configuration Manager, this is great feedback and something we will look into.

Occasional Visitor

Will this be available in Endpoint Manager on GCC tenants? It's disappointing not being able to use the Store for Business to offer and remove MS apps like Calculator, Sticky Notes, etc.

Frequent Visitor

Is it possible to distribute paid Addons in the new Store for managed devices?

Super Contributor

So it appears you are making the Store more complex. We are a small organization <100 and now you've just added to my work load by having this Windows Package Manager that I'll have to figure out how to use, test run it, get trial users to test it, and then roll out. I thought the whole point of the cloud was to make my life easier?

Likely after your changes we'll just open up the Store for people to have unfettered access to and not even bother trying to make sure they don't install games onto their work computers.

One step forward, two steps back.

 

Microsoft

@Christopher Kibble Thanks for the comment. Even today you can (and should) integrate Software Center (from ConfigMgr) with Company Portal. Once you do that, yes, Company Portal can be the one place your users go to find apps being distributed via Endpoint Manager.
Re: approval workflows, I know that's been in conversations for at least a couple of years. I can't say if it'll even come to fruition, or if you should integrate something like Power Automate. But there's nothing inherent to Microsoft Endpoint Manager for this.

Microsoft

@carlos This will make it better. There will be more options for apps to be distributed, and its still allows the admin to curate the list of apps for the endpoints.

Microsoft

@Brian Hoyt That's correct. We removed this capability back in April 2021. But depending on the app (you mention students so I assume EDU scenario) the vendor can do something like make a free app available and then have a subscription service. This is what many apps (like Netflix, for example) are doing. Minecraft is now available in this type of scenario.

Microsoft

@dylanstaley That's correct. Once the app is on the device, its fine. And for the next 18 months or so you can still manage the app through the businessstore.microsoft.com or educationstore.microsoft.com site. But after the retirement of the Store for Business or Store for Education, there will not be a way to migrate the license. You may work with the ISV (app developer) to see if they have a method, but there's nothing built into the Store for this scenario.

Contributor

Someone at Microsoft has forgotten why do-whatever-they-want EXE and MSI installers have not been allowed in the Store.

 

#ShouldBeMSIX

#ShouldBeUWP

#CouldBeAPPX

Contributor

@Christopher Kibble, regarding approval workflows. Deployments through the Company Portal are managed through Azure AD group memberships. Have a look at Identity Governance or Microsoft's other self-service portals. Could even use Office 365 group memberships (Teams/SharePoint/etc). We are using Identity Governance for users to request administrative access and have considered using it for requesting expensive or risky software being made available to them in the Company Portal. Whereas, we have made free and low risk software generally available to everyone.

Frequent Contributor

For those that want to try out winget. 

Despite the docs say you need to be enrolled in Windows Insider this is no longer true. You can deploy and test winget by installing the MSIX from github releases on Windows 10 21H1, 20H2 or 2004.

The only thing that might not work is automatic updates of winget. 

 

Check docs / help how to activate the Windows Store or own repository.

 

While I broadly use winget I personally agree with comments that the handling of Business Store was easier than the new model.

 

@Joe Lurie do you have a step by step guide how to publish any apps to the new store and how users will be able to access them.

The good thing of Business Store was that the users got apps assigned and installed automatically or can choose to install manually. All of this while not having any access to the Microsoft Store and unmanaged Apps there.

 

Will this stay the same? 

Microsoft

@K_Wester-Ebbinghaus The Windows Package Manager integration into Intune isn't available yet, so we don't have documentation on this yet. As it becomes available in preview we'll have published docs.

 

Re: publishing apps to the new Store, that was never in my realm even in the current Store. But maybe this will give guidance? Publish apps and games to the Windows Store – Develop for Microsoft

Co-Authors
Version history
Last update:
‎Jul 21 2021 06:03 AM
Updated by: