Over a year ago, it was reported that Microsoft is considering killing off Microsoft Store (previously "Windows Store") for Business and Education, and that the process would be initiated in June 2020. This report surfaced prior to the pandemic, which of course put a dent in any plans the company may have had about these offerings, and nothing in this regard was officially announced.
This may be changing soon as the Redmond tech giant has announced that it will soon be restricting users from purchasing paid apps from the Microsoft Store for Business and Education.
Customers of Microsoft Store for Business and Education have started receiving notifications from the company that they will not be allowed to purchase paid apps from the portals after April 14, and will only be able to download free apps. That said, paid apps that you have already purchased will continue to work and receive updates, and free apps will not be impacted either.
The firm has also updated the dedicated webpage for Microsoft Store for Business and Education, which now has a notice that reads:
Starting April 14, 2021, all apps that charge a base price above free will no longer be available to buy in the Microsoft Store for Business and Education. If you’ve already bought a paid app, you can still use it, but no new purchases will be possible from businessstore.microsoft.com or educationstore.microsoft.com. Also, you won’t be able to buy additional licenses for apps you already bought. You can still assign and reassign licenses for apps that you already own and use the private store. Apps with a base price of “free” will still be available. This change doesn’t impact apps in the Microsoft Store on Windows 10.
Also starting April 14, 2021, you must sign in with your Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) account before you browse Microsoft Store for Business and Education.
Microsoft has specifically highlighted that since Minecraft: Education Edition is a subscription offering, it will continue to function. Furthermore, if you still need to purchase paid apps after April 14, the company recommends that you get directly in touch with the app's publisher for your licensing needs.
Based on the above changes, it's very likely that plans to kill off the offerings have finally been put in motion by the firm. Microsoft Store for Business and Education were slightly altered versions of the vanilla Microsoft Store, and allowed administrators to tailor what apps can be download by users inside an organization. It could also be used to distribute certain apps that are only meant for businesses. As ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reports, one factor behind this change could also be Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform (UWP) plans failing to materialize in any meaningful way, which means that there is less of a need for Microsoft-managed dedicated app stores. We have reached out to Microsoft for confirmation if this is indeed the first step in deprecating the portals completely, and will update this article when we hear back.