Last month, while we were all distracted by iPhone hacking and Jay-Z's web fiasco, Microsoft silently bumped off the ability for IT administrators to easily take the Windows Store off Windows 10 Pro PCs.
Removing the software store, along with other bundled apps, from work machines is normally a good idea to prevent users from installing crap, breaking things and calling the help desk, and generally wasting time at their desks.
The Redmond giant quietly posted a support notice warning sysadmins that for Windows 10 build 1511 and later, the ability to remotely disable the Windows Store through Group Policy settings has been revoked.
If you want to use Group Policy or AppLocker to remove or disable the store in the latest Windows 10, you must be using the Enterprise or Education editions. If you're using Pro, you can no longer use Group Policy, and Pro doesn't feature AppLocker.
In other words, if you're running an office of Pro machines to keep costs down, here's a little encouragement to upgrade to Enterprise. Kerr-ching.
"This behavior is by design. In Windows 10 version 1511, these policies are applicable to users of the Enterprise and Education editions only," Microsoft said in the notice, which is dated April 6 and was spotted earlier this week by Swift-On-Security.
On Tuesday, El Reg asked Microsoft to explain its thinking, and on Wednesday we were told:
Microsoft is focused on helping enterprises manage their environment while giving people choice in the apps and devices they use to be productive across work and life. Windows 10 Enterprise is our offering that provides IT pros with the most granular control over company devices.
Windows 10 Pro offers a subset of those capabilities and is recommended for small and mid-size businesses looking for some management controls, but not the full suite necessary for IT pros at larger enterprises. The ability to block access to the Windows Store is typically for organizations who want more control over corporate-owned devices. This fits into the value of Windows 10 Enterprise.
So, it appears that if admins want to keep users from accessing the Windows Store with Win10 Pro PCs, they'll have to either spring for the upgrade, or crack open PowerShell and run Get-AppxPackage *windowsstore* | Remove-AppxPackage to uninstall the software bazaar – in which case, we hope you know what you're doing. Remove-AppxPackage also works on other bundled apps, although not Edge, by the way. ®