Microsoft is reportedly working on a big overhaul to its app store for Windows. Windows Central reports that the software maker plans to release an updated store later this year that will be far 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 like Chrome or Firefox, and even allow third-party commerce platforms in apps.
That’s a big shift for the app store on Windows if Microsoft delivers 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 own update mechanisms and commerce platforms. Microsoft will reportedly allow developers to submit 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 that are missing from the store right now. Apps like Steam, WinRAR, and Zoom don’t exist on the Windows store right now, but they’re available through the Windows Package Manager.
It sounds like whatever overhaul Microsoft is working on here will likely incorporate the company’s work with the Windows Package Manager to verify 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.
Microsoft’s rumored consideration of allowing third-party commerce platforms would also mean the company wouldn’t take a cut from developers who use their own in-app purchase systems. That’s another big change that would be both a surprising and open change to current app stores.
The Windows store originally appeared in Windows 8 as part of Microsoft’s big push to get developers to create universal Windows apps that would span across phones, tablets, PCs, and even Xbox consoles. This fell apart with the end of Windows Phone, and Microsoft eventually allowed developers to bring full native Win32 games to the Microsoft Store nearly two years ago. Developers have been asking for these rumored Windows store changes for years to make it far easier to get apps into the store and maintain and update them.
Microsoft is said to be planning 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 big “Sun Valley” overhaul to Windows later this year. Microsoft has previously described this as a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows,” which should see an overhaul for the Start menu, File Explorer, built-in apps, and much more.