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Microsoft bans game emulators from the Windows Store with rules change

The Windows Store is now officially a no-go for game emulators. In changes made on March 29 to its Windows Store policies (opens in new tab) (via Ars Technica), Microsoft has completely banned emulators from its confines, stating "apps that emulate a game system are not allowed on any device family."

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The ban has already had an effect on developers; the folks at NESBOX noted that their Universal Emulator has been unpublished from the Store following the rules change. This isn't the first time NESBOX has run into problems with Universal Emulator on the Store, but its previous bout with being unpublished was because of a conflict with ID@Xbox rules and not an outright ban.

It's not hard to see why Microsoft would want to distance its Store from the world of game emulators. Game emulation has historically been a murky legal area, and allowing console emulators into the Windows Store could be seen as a tacit endorsement, potentially opening Microsoft up to legal issues.

Of course, this only applies to the walled garden of Microsoft's Store across its platforms. Anyone who wants to toy around with an emulator can still bypass the Store altogether and secure one from other parts of the internet.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

43 Comments
  • LAME
  • I see what you did there :D
  • So we can still download from computer?
  • Ok it may be legally sound, but how many emulators are on iOS and android?
  • Actually a lot.
  • The thing is, that's not a logical argument. Just because iOS and Adroid allow it doesn't mean MS should. I think it totally sucks, but it is a good legal move.
  • Are you serious? Every single thing must be compared to iOS and Android!! They are the target, dude.
  • Considering the windows store goes beyond mobile, no, they aren't the target. Also iOS doesn't allow emulators either, so there's that.
  • Not allowed on iOS. Is allowed on the Play Store I believe.
  • F*ck...
  • Well that sucks...
  • Good bye Playing ps1 games 😢 streets of rage and metal slug 😢 I was wondering why the apps stopped working.
  • It will not affect your emulator. MS just ban from store not ban emulator from functioning.
  • Sad. And wrong decision.
  • You mean, the usual Microsoft decision?
  • Yea how dare Microsoft not want to be sued by Nintendo amongst others
  • More apps out of store!! When will they ever reach million app😭
  • Oh God no...what will Windows users now that the Windows Store banned emulators?! Oh wait...let me just open a browser and download one lol
  • I think this is a bigger hit to the xbox.
  • Apparantly Microsoft didn't damage their own platforms enough and thought they had too many apps on their last place marketplaces
  • That's why I like being able to handle my software outside of an app store.
  • This doesn't mean, of course, other emulators aren't available. Go take a look. Just downloaded a couple. Also, you can find NESBOX on the internet and it still works just as great. Microsoft just wanted to distance themselves from the possible legal issues involved with it, which I totally get. Game on!
  • Nutella attempting to kill half the Mobile app store. Kudos.
  • Not even, think outside the box
  • Yes, even. If he could think outside the box, we wouldn't be in this mess.
  • That took them forever. Kinda dumb tho
  • I am sorry to say but if they are going to police what UWP software is allowed or not Tim Sweeny, Gabe Newell and all the others were right about "the dangers of UWP". Every tech and gamer blog is reporting this and comments are sections are burning with "kill the store, kill UWP". Microsoft isn't doing themselves any favors, once again...
  • You know, Microsoft are only removing emulators that can be installed from their store. You can still download the emulators from the internet, and that includes UWP versions if the authors wish to still distribute them.
    Microsoft has not blocked UWP apps from being installed from elsewhere other than the Store. I don't like what Microsoft are doing, Microsoft knows it's a big target for the likes of Nintendo, Sony, Sega etc to all jump on a bandwagon to sue. Emulation is dodgy area at best of times, but a lot of the apps on the store were using emulators to bundle a copyright rom as well.
  • >I don't like what Microsoft are doing, Microsoft knows it's a big target for the likes of Nintendo, Sony, Sega etc to all jump on a bandwagon to sue. Emulation is dodgy area at best of times, but a lot of the apps on the store were using emulators to bundle a copyright rom as well. There is NOTHING wrong with emulators, it's the roms that are the questionable item. Microsoft is trying to be big brother, as a lawsuit could never happen as long as the emulators do not include roms. As said, this Microsoft having to have full control and not letting devs do what they want within the guides of the law. Another bad thing for UMP.... Microsoft shoots themselves in the foot...again
  • This is a stupid move. Makes no sense, and doesn't do MS any favors. They've just banned the only thing that did make any sense as far as gaming on WM10. GJ idiots. 
  • Microsoft has to give back the money to the buyers.
  • Fail, MS does not have a great catalog to get you delicate! Learn from Google, dozens of emulators, no legal problem, loved by users.
  • Serving android apple get lost wp
  • New Emulators were only hope to stay on wp.Switching to android throwing away this appless brick
  • Unless they changed something, sideloading still works. However; if game developers are so worried about theft on Windows then maybe they should consider making a game available on Windows.
  • As if they need less apps...
  • A joke....Emulators are not the question, there is nothing wrong with them, it's the roms in question. Apple stull supports them right ? I know I have plenty of emulators on Android...  Plenty of 3rd party non store emulators that work 100% fine for almost any console you could think of..
  • It hurts mobile more than anything
  • And yet the store is still crawling with emulators
  • but apps that play iligal movies  are all the craze even on the xbox. FREE MOVIES!
  • Nice, start removing and restricting one by one, people will also keep sacrificing windows platform, moreover creators update is also not supported on legacy lumia devices.
  • Still running 15063.2 because of monetary problems, or else would have purchased an android by now.... :):):)
  • Microsoft has a Store?