Windows 8.1, Love it or hate it, was intended to be both a desktop and device operating system. Regardless of how you feel about Windows 8.1, if you were tasked with managing it in you enterprise, there are a number of posts written to assist you in that task. Microsoft recently announced that client management will get easier with Windows 10. One said task IT Professionals are eager to manage are apps, namely Universal Apps formally known as Modern Apps.
As part of Microsoft’s attempt to create an OS that is appealing to tablet device users, Microsoft introduced the Windows Store. The Windows Store is Microsoft’s version of an app store commonly found with other mobile OS offerings. The current incarnation of the Windows Store showcases Modern applications and in future will highlight both Universal Apps and some Win32 application.
Similar to other App Stores, Windows Store was created for consumers to purchase applications for their devices. Unlike the other App Stores however, the Windows Store model needs to coexist with legacy software delivery methods in use by enterprise IT departments such as SCCM. Other platforms don’t have this issue because they don’t have any legacy applications or enterprise software delivery models.
What can be done today?
With Windows 10 still in Technical Preview as of this writting, are currently two available methods for managing Modern / Universal Apps in an enterprise setting:
1. Sideload the application
- Requires Certificate to sign the app since it will bypass the store validation
- Requires .Appx Bundle from the application developer / vendor
- Applications can be inserted into image with DISM
- Applications can be distributed with System Center Configuration Manager
2. Deep Link the application
- Requires Windows Store account for each user (does not need to be linked to domain account)
- Associates application with user
- Applications cannot be included in image
- Still requires some user input (not truly silent)
Access to the Windows store can be controlled through group policy.
If you choose to permit users to access the store there is still the ability to restrict or allow specific applications with AppLocker.
Remember, more management capabilities will be available when Windows 10 launches. Take a moment to watch “Getting Started with Windows 10 for the IT Professional” to learn additional management strategies being made available with Windows 10.