Microsoft is building a new app store for Windows 10 in major revitalization effort

Microsoft Store
Microsoft Store (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is working on a new Store app for Windows 10.
  • The new Store will feature a new UI and big policy changes for app developers.
  • It's part of a larger effort to revitalize the storefront on Windows.

Microsoft is working on a brand-new Store app for Windows 10 that will introduce a modern and fluid user interface, as well as bring changes to the policies that govern what kind of apps can be submitted to the store by developers. According to sources familiar with the matter, this new Store will pave the way to a revitalized storefront that's more open to both end users and developers.

It's fair to say that in the last couple of years, the Microsoft Store app on Windows 10 has fallen by the wayside. The app today is slow, unintuitive, and frankly kind of ugly. It's just not a great app store for users to navigate, but that's all going to change with the new Store that Microsoft is working on.

It should come as no surprise to hear that the new Store app will follow the same design refresh that the rest of Windows is following with Sun Valley, which is expected to ship towards the end of this year. Many in-box apps, including this new Store app, will be reinvigorated with new layouts, WinUI designs, iconography, and fluid animations.

The Store will be updated monthly with new features and fixes.

The new Store will continue to be a UWP app, and will be updated on a monthly cadence with new features and improvements over time. It should also provide a more stable download and install experience for large apps and games. Furthermore, in addition to the new storefront, Microsoft is also planning to relax some of the policies around what kind of apps can be submitted to the Store by developers.

According to my sources, there are three big changes coming to the new Store that will benefit developers:

  • Allow developers to submit unpackaged Win32 apps to the Store
  • Allow developers to host apps and updates on their own content delivery network (CDN)
  • Alllow developers to use third-party commerce platforms in apps

These changes will allow developers to bring their Win32 apps to the new Store without any changes to their existing code. In the past, developers were required to package their Win32 apps as an MSIX, and were forced to use Microsoft's own store-driven update and commerce platforms. This will no longer be necessary with the new Store.

Breaking down the new policies

Microsoft Store

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Microsoft will allow developers to submit raw .EXE or .MSI packages to the Store, and even allow those developers to host the app and push out updates via their own CDN. This change will benefit developers with apps that have a built-in auto update feature, such as Firefox or Zoom, giving them control over how and when app updates or other content types are pushed to their users.

Finally, Microsoft will allow developers to use their own in-app revenue streams, bypassing Microsoft's own commerce platform entirely. I'm told that Microsoft will not take a cut from app developers who do leverage their own in-app commerce channel, which I believe would be an industry first.

Microsoft is making it easier for devs to get apps into the Store with these policy changes.

Microsoft wants to position the Store as an open platform that allows for the best apps on Windows to be easily discovered by users. Apps that were turned away in the past for using their own update or in-app purchasing systems will now be allowed. These changes should allow apps like Google Chrome or Adobe Creative Cloud to be discoverable in the Store, though time will tell if these developers actually come.

Interestingly, I'm hearing that with the introduction of the new Store and policies around it, Microsoft will finally bring many of its first-party apps to the Store, including Teams, Office, Edge, and even Visual Studio. This move will hopefully show end-users and developers that Microsoft is serious about its new Store platform, and that it's an important part of Windows.

I'm told that Microsoft will ship the new Store in the fall, likely alongside the Windows 10 Sun Valley update that's scheduled to launch around the same time, though I believe the new Store will be backported to older versions of Windows 10 too. Microsoft will likely announce its plans for the new Store at Build 2021, with a public preview following soon thereafter.

What are your thoughts on Microsoft's new Store plans? Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • What are my thoughts? Well...
    - Fantastic to get revitalised design and have more movement :) On the new policies...
    - Good for devs. Seemingly bad for those of us that used the Microsoft Store app if my fears turn out to be true. - Fear: Does that mean the security of "Trusted apps" goes away? - Fear: Does that mean that keeping apps up to date is once again something you have to do manually? - Fear: Does that mean that apps will only attempt to update when you launch them, once again causing these frustration moments where you have to look at an installer when you actually want to get work done? - Final fear: Does that mean that apps will once again cause "PC rot" and be hard to uninstall even if they're downloaded from the Microsoft Store app?
  • Note that MSI are already basically desired-state configuration databases. When they don't include custom actions, they could be cleanly installed and uninstalled. The store could contain a warning for apps that use custom actions in their MSI or use a custom exe installer. Windows has the technology to sandbox even Win32 custom installers, by trapping filesystem and registry API calls and silently limiting their actions to an app bubble:
    The Store could use App-V stand-alone mode to contain Win32 apps. The Microsoft Store already contains apps that you shouldn't trust without investigating their publishers. The FullTrust permission basically removes all security around API access and lets the app target the full Win32 API. This is used for example for Centennial "Desktop bridge" APPX already present in the store, for example: (Windows Notepad).
    Such apps show "This app can: Access all your files, peripheral devices, apps, programs and registry" in their Permissions info. Always check requested permissions before installing an app. As for installing updates, MSI already handles versionning and the platform could be extended to check those versions and apply updates for all apps installed from the Store in the background just like for APPX instead of checking for updates at launch time.
  • This needs to be mandatory. MS has talked for a long time about default light containers, it needs to become the standard and the OS should remain untouched by anyone not named Microsoft.
  • Microsoft won't do what Apple does because Apple is happy to cut off developers and legacy apps. Microsoft never would. And if you think Apple doesn't have precedence? They cut off thousands of 32-Bit legacy apps not long ago.
  • Microsoft has cut off developers from it's store, and will likely do so in the future if a security problem appears. As for security, I'm sure it will remain the most security focused way to get apps for Windows in the future. Not that it will be perfect, as is the same for Apple and Google who routinely remove apps from their stores that are deemed insecure after the fact, and many users download them.
    Basically, as a developer, play nice or get kicked out of the sandbox. I support this 10000%
  • The point of containers is you wouldn't have to cut anyone off, their app works as expected from their POV but it's containerized from the OS point of view.
  • Thanks, very insightful information. Cheers!
  • Fantastic reply with sources. Thank you for taking the time, Philippe :)
  • If this article turns out to be true I think winrot will be rampant since developers will see no need to package their apps and just deploy exe's or msi's. Say goodbye to clean uninstalls and easy updates.
  • That's not the reality of Windows though. Few developers are putting their apps on the app store anyway.
  • He makes a good point though? Isn’t the store supposed to be:
    A) guaranteed secure
    B) self / auto updating
    C) 1 click clean uninstall MS seem to move further away from the promise of UWP with every twiddle to Windows, which many of us think is a shame.
  • In the first place, the store is supposed to offer almost all apps available within the platform which is not the case with the current MS Store.
  • - Fear: Does that mean the security of "Trusted apps" goes away? Quite possibly :(. - Fear: Does that mean that keeping apps up to date is once again something you have to do manually?
    - Fear: Does that mean that apps will only attempt to update when you launch them, once again causing these frustration moments where you have to look at an installer when you actually want to get work done? Why would it mean these? The App Store will still be a reliable app update mechanism. - Final fear: Does that mean that apps will once again cause "PC rot" and be hard to uninstall even if they're downloaded from the Microsoft Store app? I can't see how this is really avoidable. But the reality is only a handful of packaged Desktop apps exist anyway. So are we worse off?
  • It is really tough to comment as efforts like this depend on getting many small things right and Microsoft failed to do that thus far and while technically it can do that with any new effort at this point I am more like being pessimist than optimist. Just for the record few weeks ago I had a serious bug in the Store dashboard. What is the worse it was reasonable to assume that it was indirectly affecting search and thus killing my revenues. The bug was not fixed and the case was closed. And my comment on the search was addressed that it was out of the scope of support and that I can submit only the feedback regarding that. Sorry but if I have to make some conclusion based on that it is better not to waste time on the new store front. Though it would be a nice thing if OTHER more important things were fixed.
  • As usual cry baby devs on MS always complaints and win Devs on apple and Google just shut up and accept all breaking changes of the world
  • Imagine if Microsoft basically allowed only apps from MS Store on Windows 10. There would be an immediate outrage and antitrust lawsuits from many companies. For some reason, there are many people that protect Apple's App Store policies because it's their own platform where they can do whatever they want.
  • It would be immediate outrage if Apple did the same with the Mac. That has nothing to do with Microsoft but each thing that started in 80s and still exists would act like that.
  • What was what Windows RT was, and it failed. There would be no reason for Windows to exist. Windows only exists for 1 reason... legacy. Remove the legacy open system and Windows will no longer be a thing.
  • This isn't what Windows RT was. Windows RT and Windows 8.x for that matter didn't support installing Legacy apps from the App Store Windows 10 does. The expectation is more developers should be using the App Store available to them.
  • The only way to install app or programs on RT was thru the Store, which was my point. The guy was imagining what would happen if MS pulled an Apple, which is already happened... although you could sideload.
  • So you bring up something Apple aren't actually doing. Both Apple and Microsoft are taking the same approach with their legacy desktop operating systems. The difference? People actually also use the MacOS App Store because it actually has your Desktop apps on it.
  • "Devs on apple and Google just shut up and accept". Not paying attention to the law suits are we?
  • "Alllow developers to use third-party commerce platforms in apps" oh, bold move MS! Apple and Google should do the same, IMHO
  • The only reason to go non-profit is if you are already not making money and are going for the good will, and the virtue bragging. What retailer/vendor lets some other seller set up a table in the middle of the store to sell their merchandise for nothing.
  • Finally! Let's go boys!
  • Overall they are good, ideally devs would use the store API for updates and would make their apps UWP, but devs didn't went there, so it's better to get every dev to launch their apps there, then later they could potentially restrict the rules again once people get used to get their apps from the app store, but even if they don't at least it's better to get the apps from an official store instead of around the web. Just hopping that we can get emulators back to the store.
  • I don't know much about how these things work but I do know the Windows Store experience for end users is pretty terrible, and much of the problem, besides the strange lack of apps that you'd think really should be in the Store (Teams anyone?) is the search function. There are times you search for the exact name of the app and it won't come up first or second or even tenth ... you have to keep scrolling down the list to find it. This is a big deal for app discovery. I have also seen lots of junk apps that pretend to be another app (or game), which is both shady and clutters the search results. And how is it that web links to the Store don't load in the Store app? Is that even an option? I like the Store and use lots of apps from it, but boy does it need work.
  • At one point they were doing a package manager - is this going to tie in?
  • This is excellent news and should have been done along time ago... At last they get it... This is a step change and should cement Windows as the premier desktop operating system.
  • This could potentially be great news. I use «Microsoft Store» and like to have more apps in one place/system and fewer bugs.
  • It sounds like some good progress on the policy front. Aesthetically and on the usability front they really should take note of, and emulate, the good work that is being done on the Xbox Store. It seems that should be an easy, cohesive win.
  • Unless they fix the Dark Theme to make it USE MOSTLY BLACK again, I will still not touch it. I refuse to open apps and programs covered in ugly, unreadable rat grey.
  • It's about time! I remember the Store on Windows 8.1. Red Stripe deals were right up front for browsing, the visuals were very aesthetically designed, the app was very fast, and search was reliable. Oh the good ol' days! I can't wait to see where they take this.
  • I'm definitely not a fan of letting unpackaged apps into the store. Developers will now have even more of a reason to ignore MSIX in the future. The problem of "winrot" will then continue. As much as I want more apps in the store, I don't think allowing unpackaged apps is a smart move. They should work more on MSIX and make it easier to use so developers will skip creating exe's and msi's and go straight to MSIX.
  • True but reality is not enough developers are interested in doing it right. Not even Microsoft are with their biggest suite of apps using it's own update mechanism: Microsoft 365.
  • Microsoft seems to be giving developers even less of a reason to use MSIX with Project Reunion and now this leak.
  • "bring life back" It never had life to bring back and the devs/pubs/customers have said why it would fail just like GFWL. Allowing exe-s isn't going to help it, the app itself has serious problems and never address it. Rinse and repeat. For real programs the store isn't needed, stuff like Valve Steam is trusted... there simply is other alternative routes that have a better history.
  • I still have no interest in using the store.
  • Yup. There really is no need for it to exist.
  • But there should be. We use the App Store on iOS, Android and even MacOS now. There's no reason Windows couldn't also have a solid app store we get our apps from.
  • IOS and Android are operating systems for phones and tablets, not computers, true you could use them as a computer, I know someone who used to use an Android based computer, just a giant tablet really, but these systems are close fenced operating systems.
    The same with MAc OS, been a walled garden OS for years and getting worse, also Apple produce the hardware and the OS.
    Windows is a different thing, it started out as a OS for all machines, produced by many companies, yeah ok the first Windows was just a GUI dumped on top of DOS more or less.
    I am not saying the store don't have a place on Windows, it may do, but if it does then surly software producers would have adopted it more and people would be using it more. Most people I know that buy software even if it is available in the store will buy it from the producers directly.
  • The saying that there is a difference between having a store on iOS and Android is different from having one on Windows is stupid. Many variants of Linux have also tried to produce stores where people can get their apps. On Linux I don't think it has worked well since there are so many distros. Windows 10 is one OS with multiple variants, but all controlled by Microsoft. "software producers would have adopted it more and people would be using it more" is just not true.
  • It's just an extra option imho. If one doesn't like it, just move on. The beauty of Windows.
    No harm done.
  • Plenty of harm was done with Games for Windows Live. Pointing out the history of Microsoft is okay as well. I have no idea why a small set of consumer continue to go to the dry well, but it actually does provide a little entertainment. At this point, its hard to feel sorry for the suckers.
  • I agree as long as it is not pushed.
    There are a couple of problems, I tried some software from Serif, their affinity suit, i downloaded a trial of their photo software from their site, something that can not be done from the MS store, the photo software is on it, you download it in the store, and you pay for it there and then, no trial. Trying it out, gave me the push to buy it and I have the whole three titles.
    the other problem and this is not a MS things as such, but the publisher, if I wanted to use the store to update that software, I now have to buy another copy from the store, there is no way I can change my version I got from Serif to the store version,
  • But IOS and Android started off as a closed system, the whole idea of IOS and Android was for mobile use, so it had to be made easy to install apps.
    Linux, yes, Linux, I have a mate who thinks having a GUI on Linux is for wimps :) , and says it has no place on Linux, but then he used to use Unix many years ago and only started using a WIMP system with Windows and even with Windows he uses the command prompt most of the time.
    Myself, I think sticking a GUI on Linux have moved some people on to linux who would never have tried it, the same with the stores or software centres as they are called on most of the distros. i have a laptop with Linux on, I am going to install it on the other desktop at some point, installing software in Linux is a pain in the neck, so the stores make it easy.
    Installing software in Windows is pretty easy, even people with little technical knowledge can do it.
    If windows started out as a system where you could only get software from a store, then things may have been different, but most of us are used to getting our software from other places.
  • Why? 1. there is no real use for "apps" on Windows, not really
    2. "programs" can be obtained directly from dev/pub for zero royalty or payments, or thru third party distributors which have a good history... which Microsoft doesn't see Games for Windows Live and the current Microsoft Store No reason to use Microsoft as a middleman, just like the last 30 years... its worked better without them.
  • I would rather use a consolidated place to find programs for the open platform of Windows, imagine if they integrated Github with it, updates could be so much easier for users.
  • About half the applications on my PC are from the Store. It's useful and it works. The fact that it needs lots of work doesn't change that.
  • Good to see Microsoft is still committed to Windows.
  • Windows is the only operating system users don't routinely use to get their apps: 1. Microsoft need to allow web browsers on to the platform.
    2. Microsoft need to routinely use it themselves. It'll remain the place to get your UWP apps, Skype, Spotify, EverNote, iTunes, Adobe Photoshop/Premier Elements, Paint.Net and nothing much else until this happens. Microsoft 365 and not even Teams are on there 🤦‍♂️
  • While I'm glad to see that the Store is getting much needed love, I'm opposed to letting apps use their own updaters. That's one of the reasons I prefer the Store, because it offers a centralized system for securely downloading and updating apps without installing extra things that constantly run in the background. This is a shortsighted triage to try to get apps into the store.
  • Software have been getting their own updates on Windows for years, the store thing is a Windows 10 year, yeah I know Windows 8 had some sort of App thing, but it failed. i prefer the term software, not apps on computers, the word applications can be used if you really must. Apps makes the computer sound like a phone or tablet. Myself I don't allow anything to update in the background without me knowing what it is and that is the same with my phone as well.
  • Now you won't have to Google search and hunt down the software you want as much. Potentially opens up a lot of cool, but niche Windows programs people didn't know about, to more people.
  • Why do you think this will make more people use the store? A lot of people don't even realise it exists.
  • Think of all the spyware and malware and fake downloads people get when trying to find lesser known software on the open platform of Windows, it would be so much easier if people had an equally open single location to download them all. As long as Devs can get all the money they expect rather than paying a cut, there will be no reason to not support the store other than laziness or malice.
  • I mean windows store and uwp is ass no one should have to deal with that garbage ms is never going to fix the big problems
  • I have not had any malware or spyware for years, apart from windows itself being spyware.
    If people went to a single location, just think what they may miss out on with what you call lesser software? I have some good bits of software on my machine which I would never have found if I just used the store. There is the other problem, will people need an MS account to access the store?
  • I'll be real you can't make it any worse uwp has caused me so much frustrations and the fact that most of the time the stuff I want to download just doesn't I know for a fact this isn't a me issue as everyone I know has the same problem also not being able to just give files to a friend and have the store to detect it annoys me so much lost all my games on it and can't get them back because I can't download them or transfer them from a friend
  • "Definition of sentence (Entry 1 of 2)
    1a: a word, clause, or phrase or a group of clauses or phrases forming a syntactic unit which expresses an assertion, a question, a command, a wish, an exclamation, or the performance of an action, that in writing usually begins with a capital letter and concludes with appropriate end punctuation, and that in speaking is distinguished by characteristic patterns of stress, pitch, and pauses"
  • Briefly, I like what I've read about the new Store app. Looking forward to using it, both as an end user and developer.
  • hello the new Microsoft store will be available for Windows 8.1 in the future
  • Eh, I don't really care what they do to the store since I don't use it. Almost all the applications I use are third party and cross platform, mostly open source. Affinity Photo (I hate Gimp!) and games are pretty much the only reason I still boot to windows.
  • Eh, I don't really care what they do to the App- or Play stores since I don't or hardly use them. Almost all the applications I use are Windows only or I would need to buy them again, some of them are open source though. WhatsApp and cellular apps is pretty much the only reason I still boot to android.
  • At this point, I don't really care anymore. I use the store when I can - spotify, Xbox game pass, Minecraft, Windows Terminal... it's gonna suck though if my windows desktop goes back to having a zillion update services taking up all my task bar again so not looking forward to that mess. The store belongs in a modern OS because its more than a "Store"... it's not just for mobile phones and crappy apps - it's a way to safely install/manage/buy software in a trusted marketplace
  • I just want the ability to manage my library of apps, properly, instead of the **** show that exists now.