Windows 11 is real, and Microsoft has just revealed the brand-new app store that will go along with it — which could be a big deal, seeing how previous versions of the idea never really caught on. It will be called the Microsoft Store, not the Windows Store, just like it has been since a rebranding in 2017.
Here are some of the very first images of the new store. While Windows 11 was thoroughly leaked in mid-June, that leak notably did not include any glimpse of an updated app store, so I figure you’re eager to see how it might look!
The new store’s got a few partners on board: Adobe will offer its Creative Cloud suite, and Zoom and Disney Plus will be there. Microsoft will contribute its own Visual Studio and name-dropped Microsoft Teams, Notepad and Paint for the store, which does seem a little odd as the latter two have long been pre-installed apps, and the company just announced Teams will be directly integrated into Windows.
In a major move, Microsoft’s Panos Panay says developers will now be able to keep 100 percent of their revenue “if you do bring your own commerce engine” — unlike app stores from Apple and Google that generally take 30 percent of developer revenue and insist on their own payment platforms and in-app purchases. But Microsoft confirms to The Verge that deal won’t apply to games, which Microsoft and other companies have generally treated separately from apps. If you do use Microsoft’s payment platform, the company confirms the revenue shares are 85/15 and 88/12 for apps and games respectively.
Another huge surprise: the new Microsoft Store will also include Android apps that can run on your Windows 11 PC, thanks to a partnership with Amazon and some “Intel Bridge” technology. The Amazon Appstore will live inside the Microsoft Store, and you’ll be able to drag and pin those apps side by side traditional Windows apps on your computer.
In a blog post, Microsoft introduces a couple other new features: if a website wants you to install a Windows app, it can automatically pop up the Microsoft Store to handle that install. Microsoft will also have curated “stories” about new apps to highlight those it deems worthy.
We’ve known since April that Microsoft might have been planning to overhaul its Windows app store this year, and as usual, the devil’s in the details: will it actually be open to all apps and give developers what they want and need? The company’s been haunted by its original vision of a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) ever since Windows 8, when it architected the store explicitly to house that new breed of cross-platform app instead of the legacy Win32 programs that developers and many users tended to prefer.
Today, Panay said whether you’re developing a UWP or traditional Windows app, the Microsoft Store is designed to house them all. “We’re enabling developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to bring their apps regardless of whether they’re built as a Win32, Progressive Web App (PWA), or Universal Windows App (UWP) or any other app framework, creating an opportunity to reach and engage with more people,” he writes, in a new blog post.
The company had already buried the UWP dream in 2019 with the news that it would accept native Win32 games in its store, and it’s tried many other tactics to attract developers over the years — including revised policies that allow app developers to keep 95 percent of app revenue, and more recently, 88 percent of revenue from their games. It’s also tried to decouple APIs so Win32 apps can take advantage of modern Windows features.
But at the end of the day, Microsoft’s app store has never made a truly convincing case for itself — to the point that the simple package manager Microsoft introduced last May felt like a breath of fresh air. Perhaps Windows 11’s store will, too.
Update, 5:18PM ET: Added Microsoft confirmation that the 100 percent revshare deal does not apply to games.