You can make Windows 10 act like Windows RT with the Creators Update

If Windows RT was known for one thing, it was for being locked to the Windows Store for all your apps and games. This in turn essentially killed Windows RT right out of the gate, as the Windows Store was lacking in apps from top developers.

Over the last few weeks, reports of a Windows 10 "Cloud" edition that's locked to the Windows Store for all your apps have been making the rounds on the web, but it appears that new edition of Windows 10 won't be the only edition that's locked to the Store.

Starting with the Creators Update, anyone, no matter the edition of Windows 10, can enable the same lock forcing the user to use the Windows Store when downloading apps and games, essentially turning your Windows 10 install into Windows RT, just without all the architectural limitations.

This is an option that can be turned on via the Settings app, and there's two levels to it. The first is slightly more relaxed, blocking apps from being installed from outside the Store but with a button to "install anyway" if there's no Windows Store version available.

The second option is much more akin to the Windows 10 "Cloud" block we've seen over the last few weeks, blocking apps from being installed outside the Windows Store completely, regardless of whether there's a Windows Store version available.

It's a software block that adds another convenient level of security. As I've mentioned before, I think this is a great idea for certain devices. For example, I have several small Windows 10 tablets that I never ever run apps on from outside the Store, so being able to turn on this block is great as it adds extra security.

This option will be turned off by default on any Windows 10 edition that isn't Cloud, which is to be expected. You can turn this functionality on via the Settings app in the latest Insider Preview builds, and then reboot for it to take effect. You can find this option in the Apps area of Settings.

This is an excellent option for those of you who are already using the Windows Store for most of your apps, as it adds an extra layer of security over an already super secure operating system.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • I.T. everywhere will be doing that immediately =D
  • Yea as soon as they get their devs to use centennial to turn their home grown apps into store apps.
  • Not really. My company's IT uses their own app installer. They could easily turn off the ability to install non-store apps yet still use their own installler to install system32 apps. I foresee some IT departments diasabling non-store apps and the store at the same time.
  • I think that's how most companies control it. But this can give some companies an option to bring their legacy apps to store.
  • You have submit to additional MS agreements, also, if one elects to support that... you helping to build a walled garden where the decision can be MS's in the future.  
  • @MakoDaniels, that's different from my understanding. For a while now MS has given enterprise accounts the ability to run a parallel "store" for in-house apps for the business. I've seen nothing to suggest that MS is looking to change those terms.
  • ​​​   Its a walled garden.   Not sure if there is anything else to say.    Basically they want your apps and win32 programs on the store and on uwp, from their they have iOS/Apple Store clone... only step then remove the sideloading.
  • @MakoDaniels -- that's the agreement to be in the store. That part is a walled garden and that's the whole point -- there are certain groups of users, especially those who have to maintain systems for others (school and enterpsie IT leaders, for example) who very much want that. Your assertion that MS is trying to force this on everyone, like Apple does in iOS, is where I maintain that you are mistaken and only trying to scare people. MS is not trying to take away your freedom, whether you are a user or a developer.
  • I would actually agree with @Granite here. When the windows 8 was launched, I attended the bootcamp event at my college back in India and there were many developers from bing and other teams that sit in India. I asked one of them this question personally about the store and he gave me the similar answer. He convinced me that approach here of two companies is completely different. So, I think MS understands the freedom of Windows. They will keep it alive.
  • Great for family members!
  • I was going to say the same thing. RTs are still great for my kids.
  • Is there any implication to turning this on when you already have non-Store apps installed?
  • Not sure but it's a good question! If you have a few x86 apps that you rely on, you could install them and once your machine is set up flip the switch to avoid inadvertently installing viruses.
  • I was thinking that, but what happens when Steam games or the client software needs to auto-update? Or any auto-updating Win32 software for that matter
  • I've just tried on my S3 running Insider Fast. Opera was already installed and could be used after turning the switch. Meanwhile, Discord couldn't be installed. Looks like a really handy setting for my relatives' computers. I already know who I should turn this on right now if available ;)
  • Ever installed android app from non-store? You cannot install until you switch on install from unknown sources. Switch off those the app still run like normal. Same principle.
  • No use for this at all for windows 10 home or professional editions on desktop. You can disable app and software installs as administrator if you want to and If you install win on tablet you will already use cloud edition. Although this seems like neat security idea I think this is just laying the foundation for locking down the ecosystem at one point.
  • Not being allowed to install anything is *not* the same as being allowed to install anything you want from the store.
  • ...and can you turn it back off?
  • it's off by default, can be turned on and off as you please.
  • Awesome, will be using this feature a lot...only if outside apps can still continue to run on the machine when the feature is turned on. Thanks Zac.
  • Yes, and it doesn't stop already installed programs from running!
  • Reminds me of macOS' GateKeeper.
  • Can't do that unless software like R and MATLAB is available on the store.
  • Install R and Matlab before using this and you should be fine.
  • I'm not sure why you're being downvoted, but yes, R, Matlab, Scilab, Java, Scala, SPSS, etc should be available on the AppStore, after all this is a way to get new users and future users familiar with appstores instead of trying to search the web for a particular software purchase.
  • Can you install some outside-of-store apps and *then* turn it on?
  • Yes, it's perfectly fine.
  • Must have a "Lock" feature along with that setting toggle to prevent future changes like in Linux preferences window. Need enter admin password to unlock and vice versa.
  • Excellent, I will be enabling this on a number of machines I am called on to support (uninstalling crapware being a staple) Tim Sweeney is already having kittens on twitter... But morons will be morons. The store platform is excellent for product exposure, deployment and updates so I can't see why free applications wouldn't get published asap.
  • Bob, how is he a moron?  This is actually more proof that he is right.  I'm confused by your comment that he is a "moron", clearly he is right as to the long-term vision MS has.... i.e. a walled garden.   Duh.   Its not like Sweeney was the first, heck, developers have known for a long time what the goal is.   As far as programs being put on the store, why would a company or even individuals want to distribute their work via the store and why would users want it?   I'm so confused, live by the wall garden, die by the wall garden.  To submit your app to the MS store you have to submit to MS agreements.
  • @MakeDaniels, no. There is nothing to suggest Microsoft is looking to make Windows a walled garden. This is consistent with their promise to provide a simpler-to-administer version of Windows for schools, enterprise, and others who WANT this. There are also plenty of people who DON'T WANT this. And that's fine. Microsoft is offering both versions for both types of customers. This is what separaters Microsoft from Google -- for MS the customers are the users, for Google, the customers are the advertisers and the users are the product.
  • GraniteStateColin, everything suggests they want a walled garden, not sure what you are looking Sweeney pointed to cook the frog slowly as the RT version didn't work by throwing the whole thing at he user.   Just because they are offering both today, doesn't mean the intent has disappearred.    
  • For intent to disappear there has to be intent in the first place and Microsoft has said they arent closing the platform. Using your same logic, just because the feature is here and can be enabled doesnt mean that Microsoft wants to enable it for everyone. Its more likely this is a feature for edu and enterprises and for people who buy a $200-$300 laptop and just want to check email and browse the internet (IE, a chromebook).  The walled garden stuff is FUD. There is no proof of that, especially the intent of that. 
  • @MakoDaniels, that's not a rational interpretation of the facts. You are saying that because in order to get to a walled garden approach where they control everything, this would be a way to get there, and that therefore must be their plan. By that logic, the fact that they have stopped releasing Windows Phones hardware, they are abandoning UWP and then the Windows OS on all platforms. Sure it's conceivable, but wildly outside any rational analysis. If anything, we've seen MS move in the opposite direction from your claims -- they've been putting out apps for iOS and Android, showing their focus is purely on providing users what they want. In this case, there is a set of users (obviously not including you) who WANT this kind of help locking down the systems. Like you, I wouldn't want that on my systems that I use, but I sure would for any that I support professionaly or for family members.
  • Granite, you are now telling me it's not rational... I never said their plan is rational, its actually rational in one POV as there might limited revenue growth in windows and the amount of money to keep win32 legacy around probably continues to be a burden.   Its not like we don't have history here... Windows RT.  You think they care about the customers they abandoned in that or even Games of Windows Live.   I am not condoning it... matter of fact, if they ditch win32 I'm out.   Of course, if you look some of the comments below... you will see people making postive eliminate win32 posts... not even knowing Sweeney said that was the plan.  Duh.   I am not saying the plan will work.
  • @MakoDaniels, their plan is entirely rational. You are drawing irrational conclusions based on the avaliable data. Microsof wants to increase the amount of Store apps, yes. And there are many users would prefer to only get apps from the store, yes. That's not the same as your assertion that Microsoft wants to force everyone into their walled garden, like iOS does. Even Apple doesn't do that on the Mac OS X side. To suggest that MS is trying to force this on people is just a scare tactic to rile up people against MS.
  • Then how those apps in PlayStore and AppStore thrive? Why dev keep adding apps to those walled garden? Each have 2+ million apps.
  • Most Win32 programs are not in a store, they don't want to be on a store and in some cases they can't be.    If I develop an application on an open platform I or we don't need permission, nor to agree to additional terms.   If one wants a walled garden that is fine, there is products for that.   You are actually agreeing with Sweeney... that the goal is a closed loop. 
  • Then no problem right but that Sweeney seem make this walled garden in negative mode. I bet he use iPhone or Android device and use that platform walled garden to install his twitter app.
  • kz_m It can be a negative thing if your business, government, or consumer use relies on an open platform and they want you to build the wall for them.   There is nothing wrong per se with a walled garden... the problem is trapping people that don't want to be in a walled garden or can't be.   If walled garden is okay, most businesses would have already switched completely to iOS/Android...
  • You have a choice right so what the problem?
  • Well, an open discussion and informing people leads to less problems... the problem of course, MS can't let their plan be known... I would say that is the problem.    If they say, we are not going to support win32 after Dec 31, 2020, cool.... see everyone leave in mass... but of course, as Sweeney said, they have to cook the frog slowly.   Open discussion helps to eliminate the problem or potential less people getting harmed... like with Games for Windows Live.  So, it is believed by many, that MS wants to hide what their intent is as then it will give users and businesses later once they know they have been cooked.   
  • Seems like a good idea on a kids computer, keep them from getting their computer filled with viruses.
  • Non-admin users helps prevent most installs and should be used anyway.
  • no
  • Does anybody know if I'll be able to use (already installed) win32 apps when I enable this "Windows Store only lock"?
  • Yes, you still be able to
  • Thank you!
  • I can't wait until the store gets app parity (as in the most popular apps and features the same time as ios and android. I can care less about sheer number of apps. I never understood that marketing ploy.). Then I can recommend and give w10 devices to everyone and lock them down so I don't have to manage them. Big Windows capabilities with ios ease of management via the same use patterns.
    I'll say hey Cortana and everyone devices' will be under my control
  • Why not just go with iOS right now?   I mean, you have a big collection of apps already plus a big user base.   I am so confused, why people want a Windows iOS.   Why not just go with iOS if that is your thing.  (not a question)
  • Ios isn't my thing. Not that its bad. I prefer Windows. Ui, ue, nostalgia, device integration, capabilities, is why I prefer Windows. And if you have any experience being the go-to support person in your circle, the less support you have to provide, the better thus the desire for manageability which windows offer a wide range of. Some ppl are most productive wide open systems, some need closed for security from outside threats and themselves and some need in-between the two extremes. Hope that directly answers the question you asked but claim you didn't ask.
  • I would assume most of the windows desktop UI would go away, but even then I think most people like iOS UI, of course, iOS is not really my thing... closed system.    Also, most companies I deal with are already on iOS/Android for phones and would make sense to just go with iOS and Android at this point.
  • iOS and Android are limited to merely bastardized apps. They don't give you native access to full-fledged Desktop apps when you need them, that's the major difference here. With Windows, you get the choice of keeping things simple or going full-fledged without any nonsense limitations. If you have no use of full-fledged Win32 applications, nor advanced external peripherals, that's where iOS/Android makes sense for you. Otherwise, you'll still be relying on a separate Windows/macOS PC if you choose to go with iOS/Android, which is pointless complication when Windows 3-in-1s like the Surface Pro will easily do it all.
  • I understand why they would use iOS and Android. My company also has app developed for staff to apply for recreation theme park passes and vacation leave. As for other enterprise software we use our lock down iPad or Android tablet as a thin client to access our remote desktop. This approach elimate my ability to copy files or upload them into my cloud storage.
  • Looks like a useful setting.  I suspect there's a simple registry setting behind it, and probably a domain group policy, and PowerShell command to toggle it.  Maybe it's time to install an Insider Build again and investigate.
  • Just because nobody seems to remember: Windows RT had a full version of Office RT desktop suit built-in with a lifelong license. So, no, while this feature is very handy and much welcomed, you can't turn Windows 10 into what Windows RT really was. Paying $69 per year would get you something close to Windows RT.
  • Macros ran great on Office RT. LOL.
  • Windows 10 WE (Wife Edition)
  • I think all big companies like Oracle, IBM, Mathworks, and even small developers for GNU open source code should be starting to use the Windows 10 appstore to publish their software.  This will benefit these companies as new users can find their productivity software under a category called math/computer science/technology software
  • Why should Windows be the only platform other than iOS & Android that doesn't have this security feature? I am not saying we should make Windows into iOS, but instead a walled garden with a secured door. The default 'option' should be the ⚠ security warning screen and install at your own risk. That way someone can still install Win32 programs but will assume responsibility if there computer goes belly up because of viruses and malware. This option will drive quality apps to the store because the developer will see that a Windows Store UWP Apps make for a better user experience for the average user in the Windows ecosystem. This will also help Windows compete against Apple and Google in quality apps being submitted to the store. Imagine UWP App versions of your favorite Win32 programs, that you could utilize across the ecosystem. This new feature needs to be sold as what it truly is, a security feature. People right now perceive Windows as insecure and have for some time, just look at Apple's recent iPad Pro ad featuring a tweet from a user stating it and Apple saying that the iPad Pro doesn't get viruses while showing an image of their app store. There are companies that sell Win 32 programs where their business model involves selling Win 32 programs using Microsoft's OS to compete directly with Microsoft. Either Microsoft should get a cut of that or should lock the OS completely like iOS. I would prefer that Microsoft got a cut and all of our favorite Win32 programs were made into Windows UWP Apps that we could use on our desktop PC's, tablet PC's, Ultra Mobile PC's (ie Surface Note), HoloLens, XBOX and IOT devices. Also if Microsoft doesn't do this you will never see Chrome on anything other than PC's or any of your favorite Win 32 programs. I vote yes for this initiative.
  • Ryan, what you are suggesting is exactly what Sweeney said would happen... slowly hamstring Win32.   That's exactly why companies and individuals shouldn't be porting Win32 over to the store... additional agreements with MS.   So... MS wants you to port your Win32 program over to UWP so eventually you have very little choice but to agree to terms and they ultimately have say so what goes on the platform.   And they get a cut on what was developed on an open platform and of which today can be distributed and install without them.   Sounds like iOS, which is what everyone has been saying.... why do I need that?   The reason why companies have Windows machines is win32 legacy programs, more or less... most apps are being created for iOS/Android.  
  • Microsoft already has the ability to dictate what can or can't run on the platform, by stupidly breaking compatibility with those applications like Crapple does with macOS, if they so wanted to. Using that as an excuse not to bring Win32 apps to the Windows Store and gain several advantages is just retarded. Regarding getting a cut, if that was their sole priority, they wouldn't have readily given the choice to install UWP apps from a third-party source, which they do. Plus, they won't be getting anything from free apps, so, there's no reason why the millions of free Win32 apps out there shouldn't be ported over, unless they require root access.
  • Great clickbait title, but, no, it's not at all like Windows RT, because now devs can use the Desktop Bridge to bring their Win32 apps to the Windows Store.  With RT, there was no possibility of ever running a Win32 application.  Which is what doomed Windows RT.
  • Radcapitalist, but that is always subject to change, right... its RT.
  • What specifically is the downside for said companies and developers, I know that are some but what are they?
  • If you are talking UWP/Store, well the fear is eventually MS changes the deal as it is subject to change.   No win32, no sideloading, and if you want your program to be on windows you have to agree to additional terms.  (Quick version)  Window