Microsoft is reportedly planning to reinvigorate the Store app on Windows 10 with a new design and policy changes that make the platform more appealing for both end-users and developers. The information comes from Zac Bowden of Windows Central, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Most Windows 10 users, even some die-hard Microsoft fans, can likely recognize that the current Microsoft Store is far from being the centralized hub for installing apps that Microsoft wanted it to be. In fact, Microsoft itself has come up with other tools to install apps on Windows 10 more conveniently, specifically the Windows Package Manager that was released last year. Not only that, but the Xbox division created its own storefront for games, further cementing that navigating the Microsoft Store isn't all that pleasant.
With these purported changes, Microsoft apparently wants to change that. The new Store app will fall in line with the UI changes that are expected as part of the big Sun Valley refresh that's been rumored for some time now. That refresh targets Windows 10 as a whole, and we've seen some glimpses of those changes in Windows 10 Insider preview builds and apps like Alarms & Clock. The new Store app will have new layouts, iconography, and fluid animations.
Of course, it's not all about the UI, and Microsoft seemingly wants to change some policies, too, hoping to bring in more apps, which is a weak point for the platform right now. Bowden points to three major policy changes: first, developers will be able to submit unpackaged Win32 apps to the store, meaning both EXE and MSI packages will be supported; second, those apps will be able to manage updates using their own cloud distribution network (CDN), meaning apps with built-in update systems no longer need to use Microsoft's update system; and finally, apps will be able to bypass Microsoft's commerce platform and use their own revenue streams without giving Microsoft a cut of their revenue.
These are all major changes, and they would make the Microsoft Store arguably a better fit for the expectations of users on a PC. In its current form, it's with the Google Play Store and iOS App Store, but one could argue that the expectations for mobile platforms are significantly different from those of a PC. These policies could allow the current Windows app ecosystem to thrive as it always has, simply offering a hub for apps to be easily accessible.
According to the report, Microsoft will be taking the opportunity to bring many of its own apps to the Store since these changes are in place. Apps like Teams, Office, Edge, and Visual Studio are all said to be coming to the Store, signaling that Microsoft actually believes in the ecosystem.
This is all said to be coming in the fall, which is also when we expect the Sun Valley refresh for Windows 10 to show up, and Microsoft could announce these changes at this year's Build, followed by a public preview some time after that. However, the new Store could be brought over to older versions of Windows 10, too.