We announced earlier this year that a new storefront for businesses and organizations would be launching this fall. The new unified Windows Dev Center opened in July with the opportunity for developers to submit apps to the new storefront, and today the first release of Windows Store for Business is available to organizations in 21 markets.
Windows Store for Business is a web-based portal that IT decision makers, purchasers and administrators use to find, acquire, manage, and distribute Windows Store apps across their organization’s Windows 10 devices. This new capability allows you to expand your app reach to businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations.
In this blog I’ll describe the apps that can be found in Windows Store for Business today, walk through the Dev Center experience, and illustrate the organizational and user experience.
This initial release of Windows Store for Business supports free apps and custom-developed line-of-business (LOB) apps that organizations provide to employees at no charge. Paid apps, and apps opted-out of organizational licensing in the Dev Center are not available to organizations in this release.
Support for paid apps, and support for in-app-purchases, is planned for a future release. We recommend you submit these apps for organizational licensing now, which will allow these apps to be available to organizations when we add support for paid content.
I’ll walk through how organizations will find and acquire your Windows Store apps, obtain LOB apps, distribute, manage, and make apps available for people in their organization to install on Windows 10 devices. Understanding the process from their perspective is helpful so you can make the right decisions for your apps.
Find and acquire relevant apps
IT professionals can find apps in Windows Store for Business by browsing app collections, searching by keywords, or by browsing app categories. They can also invite a developer to create a custom LOB app. Organizations can acquire one or multiple licenses for an app in a single transaction.
Windows Store for Business – IT professional view
Before Windows 10, organizations with custom LOB apps had to use sideloading or third-party management tools to distribute the apps. With Windows Store for Business, sideloading is no longer necessary. Organizations can acquire LOB apps directly from developers via Windows Store for Business and distribute and manage them via the same mechanisms as other Windows Store apps.
Distribute and manage apps
After organizations acquire apps, they have these distribution options:
- Direct assignment to individuals and teams via Windows Store for Business
- Placing the app in their private store page in Windows Store for users to find and download
- Using a third-party management solution
Organizations manage apps and their licenses in one inventory. They can reclaim and reassign licenses as needed.
The users in the organization will be able to find apps very easily, for example in the private page of Windows Store:
Once the user has installed a selected app, it is updated automatically when an update is submitted through Dev Center.
Dev Center experience
Making apps broadly available to organizations
Windows Store for Business experience begins at app submission. Apps are offered to organizations by default. This allows you to take advantage of the new storefront without any additional steps on your part. While there is no disadvantage to allowing your app to appear in Windows Store for Business, if you would prefer to opt your app out of the process, just uncheck the box for Store-managed (online) volume licensing during the app submission process.
Developers also have the option to select Disconnected (offline) licensing. This allows apps to be installed on unconnected devices, without using the Store’s online licensing system. Organizations with unique security needs or device management tools often need this option to use an app. When paid apps become available in Windows Store for Business, Microsoft will verify all companies requesting to self-manage paid apps before granting them access, and all offline licenses will be watermarked to identify the company that acquired the license.
For more information about organizational licensing in the Dev Center, see Organizational licensing options.
Publishing line-of-business apps
When a company seeks to acquire an app specific to their organization, developed either in-house or from a third party, these apps are also submitted to Windows Store for Business via Dev Center. Organizations can then use Windows Store for Business to manage and distribute that app to Windows 10 devices. It only takes four steps:
- In Windows Store for Business: An IT pro professional invites a developer to publish a custom LOB app for that organization.
- In Dev Center: Developer accepts the invitation.
- In Dev Center: Developer publishes the app targeting that organization
- In Windows Store for Business: After the app submission is available, an IT Professional can accept the app and add it to their inventory. They can distribute the app to users in their organization.
So now that Windows Store for Business is live, make sure you add your business and educational apps to Windows Store and select the distribution option that works best for your app. If you develop line-of-business apps, we encourage you to work with your organizations to use Windows Store for Business as a distribution option.