Microsoft to offer app-store-like experience to distribute and update bespoke apps

Behold the mutant offspring of the Microsoft Store, Endpoint Manager, and Package Manager

Microsoft has promised a new form of private app store that can be used to distribute private apps to your device fleet.

This story starts with Microsoft's 2021 decision to retire the Microsoft Store for Business and Microsoft Store for Education, both of which gave users the tools to create a private app store from which their users could access software.

Microsoft felt it could replace those two Stores because the mainstream Microsoft Store could be made to do the same job. The software giant also suggested its Endpoint Manager and Windows Package Manager could have a role in app distribution.

A Thursday update advances those plans by revealing that the Microsoft Store will gain "a rich API layer based on Microsoft's Windows Package Manager."

"Management tools, like Endpoint Manager, provide deeply integrated app search, discovery, acquisition, and deployment capabilities that were not available with Microsoft Store for Business," the post adds, continuing: "With Windows Package Manager, we can now provide richer app experiences directly within the Endpoint Manager console including app deployment and app update controls."

Users will still be able to use Microsoft Intune to set policies describing which users can access which apps from the Store.

In 2023, Microsoft will add two more capabilities:

  • Access to an expanded catalog of applications above and beyond what is available in the curated Microsoft Store on Windows.
  • Supporting any number of Windows Package Manager repositories hosted internally (privately) for an organization.

The second item above is "actively in design" and should mean admins can control deployment what Microsoft's described as "In house line-of-business, privately developed apps, ISV apps for a specific company."

Microsoft's post promises the ability to distribute private apps will land in early 2023.

Redmond is also "looking at a rich app updating capability that will give you a number of enterprise controls for keeping those apps up to date in your organization."

Information on that capability will arrive "later this year." ®

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