Microsoft is reportedly working on a major overhaul of its app store for Windows. Windows Central reports that the software maker plans to release an updated store later this year that will be much more open to all types of apps and games. This could pave the way for developers to be able to submit any Windows application to the store, including browsers such as Chrome or Firefox, and even enable third-party trading platforms in apps.
That’s a big shift for the app store on Windows when Microsoft executes this rumored overhaul later this year. Currently, the Windows Store (or Microsoft Store as Microsoft calls it) requires developers to package their win32 apps as an MSIX and use Microsoft’s proprietary update mechanisms and trading platforms. Microsoft will reportedly allow developers to send standard EXE or MSI packages to the store, and updates can be managed through a developer’s own Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Such a change would open the Windows Store to many more apps, including popular ones like Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite of productivity apps, and even rival browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Microsoft launched its own Windows Package Manager last year, and it quickly became a great option for the hundreds of apps currently missing from the store. Apps such as Steam, WinRAR and Zoom do not currently exist in the Windows Store, but are available through Windows Package Manager.
It sounds like any revision Microsoft is working on here will likely integrate the company’s work with the Windows Package Manager to authenticate apps and list them in the store. Microsoft currently uses a number of methods to validate app packages for its Windows Package Manager, including scanning with its SmartScreen technology, static analysis, and SHA256 hash validation.
The rumors that Microsoft might consider allowing third-party trading platforms would also mean that the company wouldn’t get a discount on developers using their own in-app purchase systems. That’s another big change that would be both surprising and overt change in current app stores.
The Windows Store originally appeared in Windows 8 as part of Microsoft’s grand effort to get developers to create universal Windows apps that would span phones, tablets, PCs, and even Xbox consoles. This fell apart with the end of Windows Phone, and Microsoft eventually allowed developers to bring fully native Win32 games to the Microsoft Store nearly two years ago. Developers have been asking for these rumors in the Windows Store changes for years to make it much easier to get apps in the store and to maintain and update them.
Microsoft would plan to bring many of its own apps to this new Windows App Store, including Teams, Office, Edge, and Visual Studio. The new store is rumored to be part of Microsoft’s major ‘Sun Valley’ overhaul to Windows later this year. Microsoft previously described this as a “major visual rejuvenation of Windows,” which should undergo an overhaul for the Start menu, File Explorer, built-in apps, and more.