Microsoft is said to be working on a major redesign of the Windows app store. According to Windows Central, Microsoft intends to release an improved store later this year that will be even more open to all forms of applications and games. This could open the door for developers to upload any Windows app to the store, including browsers like Chrome and Firefox, as well as enable third-party commerce platforms to be integrated into apps.
If Microsoft implements the rumoured overhaul later this year, it will be a significant change for the Windows app store. The Windows Store (or Microsoft Store, as Microsoft refers to it) currently allows developers to bundle their win32 apps as an MSIX and use Microsoft’s own update mechanisms and commerce platforms. According to reports, Developers will be able to send regular EXE or MSI packages to the store, and updates will be handled via the developer’s own content distribution network (CDN).
Such a move like this will allow many more apps, including common ones like Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite of productivity apps and even rival browsers like Chrome and Firefox, to be added to the Windows Store. Last year, Microsoft released its own Windows Package Manager, which quickly became a great choice for the hundreds of apps that are currently unavailable in the store. Steam, WinRAR, and Zoom aren’t currently available in the Windows Store, but they’re available via the Windows Package Manager.
Microsoft’s collaboration with the Windows Package Manager to check apps and list them in the store seems to be a part of whatever overhaul the company is working on. Microsoft currently validates app packages for its Windows Package Manager using a variety of methods, including scanning with SmartScreen technology, static inspection, and SHA256 hash validation.
Microsoft’s rumoured consideration of having third-party commerce platforms would also mean that developers who use their own in-app purchase systems would not be charged fees. That’s another significant improvement that will be both unexpected and welcomed in today’s app stores.
The Windows Store debuted in Windows 8 as part of Microsoft’s larger effort to encourage developers to build universal Windows apps that would work on phones, tablets, PCs, and even Xbox consoles.
With the end of Windows Phone, this fell apart, and Microsoft finally allowed developers to upload complete native Win32 games to the Microsoft Store nearly two years ago. For years, developers have been requesting these rumoured Windows Store improvements to make it much easier to bring applications into the store, as well as to manage and update them.
Many of Microsoft’s own products, including Teams, Office, Edge, and Visual Studio, are expected to be added to the latest Windows app store. The new store is rumoured to be part of Microsoft’s upcoming “Sun Valley” Windows overhaul. Microsoft has previously referred to this as a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows,” which would include changes to the Start screen, File Explorer, built-in apps, and more.