Microsoft is renovating its Windows Store, adding some new mobile app management features in preparation for the release of Windows 10.
Chief among the new capabilities, at least for administrators charged with overseeing their end-user IT environments, is mobile device management support, announced Jim Alkove, head of the Windows enterprise program management team. "With Windows 10, organizations will also be able to fully control Windows Store features and distribution using System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune or via mobile device management (MDM) services," he stated in a company blog post.
The integration will enable basic functions like installing, uninstalling and updating apps on Windows devices, as well as more complex jobs, including license management. "Because the app licenses acquired through the Store portal belong to the organization, we'll provide capabilities for organizations to reassign those licenses as needed," said Alkove.
In somewhat of a departure from Microsoft's new "cloud-first" technology outlook, and in recognition "that some organizations need to install apps on devices that do not have Internet access," he added that Windows Store will support offline app installations. "Organizations will be able to download the app installation files from the Store portal and include them in custom Windows images, deploy them in run-time provisioning packages or automatically install them from an on-premises server using System Center Configuration Manager or MDM services," explained Alkove.
Enterprise customers can also expect a different Windows app store experience in Windows 10.
Administrators that log in using an Azure Active Directory, Microsoft's cloud-based user identity and access management solution, will be greeted by a new and customizable Web-based portal. "Apps acquired through the portal can then be assigned to people in the organization, who need only to click on a link to install the apps," said Alkove. Windows Store will also support bulk app purchases, he revealed.
IT workers aren't the only ones Microsoft is targeting with the new store. The software giant is also hoping to pave the way for developers that have jumped on the Windows universal app bandwagon. "This unified Store will offer tremendous benefits for commercial software developers, enabling them to offer universal Windows apps that can be used across phone, tablet and PC form factors," he said.
Microsoft kicked off its universal app development initiative in earnest at this year's Build conference in San Francisco with the April 2 release of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2.
"We are taking a huge step forward in what we call platform unification," Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, told eWEEK's Darryl K. Taft. "Whether you are running Windows on a PC or a laptop, or whether you are running Windows on a slate, or whether you are running Windows on a phone, you can now use a concept we call Universal Project in Visual Studio to build one application where you literally share 90 percent of the APIs and a lot of your code and build different heads for the different form factors."