Evolving the Microsoft Store for Business and Education

Published Jul 21 2021 08:00 AM 52.1K 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.

 

53 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.

Regular 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

Occasional Visitor

So in January of this year our school purchased 50 licenses of FL Studio Mobile for use with our Secondary music classes and 50 Licenses of Lightbot for use with our year8 Digital Technologies classes by students on their BYO devices and now I can no longer purchase any extras. So now our first dabble into the Microsoft Store for Education has been a complete waste of time and now we need to find some other app we can purchase and administer somehow for our new students on their owned devices.

New Contributor

@Joe Lurie I'm in scramble mode. The more immediate issue is that for our org, I expect we will have Windows 11 devices as soon as those devices come out. At it's current state, the Windows 11 Store app has been gutted to disallow Work/School accounts. That doesn't seem to match up with the "grace period" the Store for Business has. Non of our LOB apps update on the Windows 11 preview--something I discovered when the first preview came. Nobody would comment about what I found out and was only confirmed by this post later.

 

For our org, devices are not managed via UEM or Intune. Do I now have to get a code signing cert for our LOB apps? Am I now priced out of this because Intune is an additional paid service? Will Mobile Device Management in Microsoft 365 work?

 

Why are docs "available soon" rather than prepared before announcement? I abhor this trickle comms approach.

 

Microsoft

@Carlo Mendoza We don't have the docs available yet because the service isn't available yet, and the way the service works can change before its at least in a private preview. Docs will be available when we preview the service.

 

I understand the issue with Windows 11 requiring MSA instead of ent/edu accounts. My recommendation is to give the students Windows 10 devices when school starts in Aug/Sep since Windows 11 will not be released before then, and then in the first half of 2022 when we have docs available for how the Windows Package Manager integration works, and we have a timeline of the next version of Windows 11, then start testing Windows 11. But to solve for your immediate need, stay on Windows 10 for the short term.

Occasional Visitor

@Joe Lurie I appreciate your responses to various questions however my query about GCC wasn't addressed. Will there be a way for GCC Endpoint to distribute Store Apps, as it was blocked from using the current Store?

Microsoft

Sorry @aaron90 was hoping someone else on the team could answer that. Flagging for @John Vintzel and @Bryan Keller

Occasional Visitor

Hi

 Where will manual Autopilot device additions/removals be done if not from the Store for Business? Is this something that would be implemented directly within Endpoint Manager and not kept separate as it is now?

@Joe Lurie 

Microsoft

@WilliamArt Registering devices via Intune is only one way to register them into Autopilot. Partners can use Partner Center, there are APIs that can be leveraged, they can be automatically registered as part of enrollments, etc...but for a manual process, yes Intune (or specifically the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center) portal is the best way.

New Contributor

@Joe Lurie similar questions to the above related to Autopilot, currently ours were being done via the Store for business and synced over to MEM. 
We know we can do the same task via MEM directly and assign profiles via a deployment profile.

But my question is what about all the devices before that were imported into the store for business and had a deployment profile assigned that way? Will they just continue to work going forward or will some work need to be done with those?

If looking at those Autopilot records in MEM it just states the deployment profile was assigned externally 

Microsoft

@barberj66 I believe once they are imported into Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center - regardless of how they got there - they should continue to work, but will confirm with the Autopilot PG.

New Contributor

Thanks @Joe Lurie  that would be good to know.

 

I guess also there will be options to remove those devices directly from MEM going forward too for when we replace/dispose of devices. Currently we'd have to remove from the store and sync those changes into MEM.

Regular Visitor

It's confusing to me how this will work compared to our current Business Store.  In the current Business Store I search for an app and "acquire" it.  I then assign the app to a user.  Also, if our current users open the Microsoft Store app on their workstation they do NOT see the thousands of apps available to the public, and we do NOT want them to be able to see, or acquire, any of those apps.  That's the whole point of having the Business Store in the first place, so we can control what our users see.

 

Will it work the same way with Intune?  When our users open the Store on their workstation, they won't see all public apps and only see the apps we have acquired and assigned to them?

Microsoft

@Keith_Hemmelman You'll still be able to hide the Microsoft Store using Group Policy or CSP, so you don't have to worry about users downloading and installing Store apps. With the Windows Package Manager integration in Intune, you'll find, deploy, and manage apps (not just Store apps, but all kinds of apps) from the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center, and assign it directly to the user or user group. The process will be the same as publishing any other non-store app that you deploy today. If you are using a different cloud management tool, Package Manager has open APIs that that tool can use to connect, allowing you to find and deploy the aps from there.
If you do not hide the Microsoft Store, then yes, users will see whatever apps show up in their public, consumer Microsoft Store. So recommend hiding it to prevent users from downloading public apps.

Occasional Visitor

@Joe Lurie Last year, I was given account for 5000 licenses of students for use with our high school literature classes. It helps me so much in teaching online, especially in covid 19 epidemic. However, I can not use that account because of the expired license. Now the epidemic in Vietnam, especially in HCMC is gradually becoming seriouslly so that we continue to teaching online. So can you help me to renewal my account so that I can support my students teaching online in currently condition? Following to me, Microsoft Office 365 Education A1 has been a perfect and useful programme and now we extremely hope continue to receive your help to use it for eduction.
Thank you so much!

Microsoft

Hello @dinhkhoa @I’m not able to help with licensing renewals or support in this public forum. If you purchased the licenses from a CSP, go through the CSP. If you purchased via VLSC, use the support offered through.VLSC. Or check with your account executive, if you have an account team at Microsoft.

Senior Member

Reading the above it seems that there is no intention to allow apps with any cost to be purchased/deployed. Typically we have some users who require the HEVC addon, which is 79p (UK) and this is Microsoft's own app - so how do I go about getting this app now??

 

Also, on the suggestion of turning apps with a cost to free apps with in-app purchases, are you expecting users to pull out their own credit card to make the purchase or will there be a way for the business to make these purchases - because I can guarantee a number of our users will complain or flat out refuse!

Occasional Visitor

@Joe Lurie How will offline machines be handled?  I have many machines that are not networked by any means - they are completely stand-alone.  I am still required to perform security and patch scans then bring those systems up to date with current patches and settings.  What will be my option for those machines?   I am currently having an issues getting patches for Office 2019 products.  It appears to me that this change will make patching efforts on my part even more difficult.

Microsoft

@AndyH16 we removed the option to purchase apps in April, unrelated to this announcement. Work with your Microsoft account team to purchase HEVC.

re: free app with in-app purchases, I’m not referring g to ads. I’m talking about what many games and streaming services do (like Netflix) where you download the app for free and sign in with a subscribed account. You’d work with the app vendor for those subscriptions.

hope that helps.

 

Microsoft

@JMCaron this doesn’t seem to be a Store for Business question. We do have tools that assist with offline patching of devices. Best bet is to reach out to one of the Windows Update or Windows Update for Business forums. 

Regular Visitor

@AndyH16We also have previously purchased the HEVC codec app in the Business Store.  Loosing the ability to purchase apps will undoubtedly cause a problem for our enterprise at some point in time in the future.  Because we are a State Government enterprise, we had a system setup in the Business Store where we could purchase the app and then bill back the appropriate agency for the purchase, and then the app was owned by them.  We would manage the app by assigning it to the appropriate user(s) from that billed agency.  The Business Store made managing purchased, (and free), apps functional.  But now I don't know how purchasing apps will be functional.  I suspect it's only a matter of time and other (non free) apps will be requested by one of our agencies.  We no longer have the ability to purchase apps from the Business Store and it doesn't seem functional for us to contact someone to accomplish what was a simple task we could do ourselves inside the Business Store.  Personally, my feelings are it would be easier if we could block the Store from showing up or functioning at all, then we wouldn't need to deal with it anymore.  That won't happen, so it would be tremendously helpful if Microsoft would publish clear guidance on how enterprises are supposed to purchase and manage those apps.  I'm hopeful as time goes by that things will become clearer on how to manage/purchase apps from the Store in an enterprise where you need to control what shows up in the Store and what apps are allowed.

Contributor

Regarding purchasing paid Microsoft apps such as HEVC you say contact your Microsoft account team. Many schools are sufficiently small that we don't have dedicated account team. Can you point us to who would handle purchases of this? Further how do we deal with the purchases already made that we will no longer be able to deploy? This is a problem for all apps, but we can start with Microsoft and see if there is a solution and then see if 3rd parties have a solution.

Contributor

Also how do we deploy this paid app version of HEVC? Will Microsoft give us a package?

Occasional Contributor

Happy to see this is being moved into Endpoint Manager, but I'm not sure I'm loving that you're removing all licensing capabilities from the store and relying on third party services to handle this. Hopefully it will turn out well in the end :)

Occasional Visitor

Sorry, the MS Store for Education coupled with MEM is brilliant.

 

Great controls for shool only apps and distribution. 

 

Why does this have to change? 

 

It would be great to see some detail on how to control apps to your own organisation and in turn how to publish via MEM so we can start transitioning. 

Frequent Contributor

@Joe Lurie I have noticed that calculator and snip and sketch are no longer available for offline installation via the Business Store.
Sticky Notes is. Can you tell more about why some apps allow this and some not?

 

Microsoft

Hey @K_Wester-Ebbinghaus - I'm seeing all three of the apps mentioned as acquirable and downloadable. 


Can you double-check your settings?  Under Manage > Settings > Shop, there is a setting for "Show offline apps". Ensure that setting is "On".  Perhaps it was somehow turned off for your tenant? 

 

We haven't made any changes that would accelerate any free offline app to be retired, but individual app publishers can decide to remove their application from Microsoft Store for Business and Education at anytime. From my own testing, that doesn't appear to be what's happened in this case.

Frequent Contributor

@Michael Curnutt Yes I have done so. I can acquire and download them but other than Stick notes there is no dropdown box to download it online or offline. The settings are as you required. Offline apps are shown. Otherwise, I suspect sticky notes would not offer to download offline or would not show up later. 

Occasional Visitor

I only use the store for education to give users minecraft licences in the school, is the store for education going as well?

 

If the stores are going where / how will i give out licences to users as this was done threw the education store only as the licences dont show up any where else? 

 

 

Microsoft

Hi @Wes1ey Yes the impacts Store for Business and Store for Education. But Minecraft: Education Edition subscriptions will be available in the Microsoft 365 admin center for management.

Frequent Contributor

@Joe Lurie thanks for repeating. I wonder why Minecraft is so important. Can anyone explain a usecase of this game in edu?

New Contributor

@Joe Lurie, can you tell me how to use winget on Windows 11 to install/upgrade a LOB app from a private Store? This supposedly works as of date of publishing this post, right?

 

I just tried winget upgrade [APP ID] for one of our private LOB apps and it returns with "No applicable update found"

 

For context, I know there is an update available for the app.

Microsoft

@Carlo Mendoza Windows Package Manager integration with the public store is still in being developed, it is an experimental feature at this time.  Windows Package Manager will help to power the new solution with Intune, but will not be driving installs from the existing private store.

New Contributor

@John Vintzel this bring up the question of why this ability was cut out of the new Windows 11 Store App so hurriedly before Store for Business is taken away in 2023 AND before any of the replacement solution is ready? We will have clients on Windows 11 sooner than most organizations.

 

For a small organization like ours, this is daunting.

 

Why not just keep the capability available in the Windows 11 Store app until Store for Business goes away or when the replacement solution is no longer "experimental"?

Microsoft

@Carlo Mendoza users can go to businessstore.microsoft.com (or educationstore.microsoft.com) to find apps that are curated and assigned to them. Also, if you have a UEM solution, you can still link Store for Business to that UEM solution (such as Intune) and deploy store for business apps to the Windows 11 devices (or use company portal on the Windows 11 devices). The only functionality that's gone is the Store for Business tab. But the Store for Business functionality and apps still work.

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