With its latest Windows 10 Pro update, Microsoft has added a problem for some administrators who want to block employees' access to the Windows Store.
Under its Windows 10 Pro 1511 update, administrators will no longer be able to disable Windows Store via the Group Policy settings, according to a support notice Microsoft posted to its site.
This is no mistake.
According to its notice, Microsoft states:
This behavior is by design. In Windows 10 version 1511, these policies are applicable to users of the Enterprise and Education editions only.
In other words, administrators who want this feature will have to pay for an enterprise version of Windows 10, or for an education edition.
For Microsoft, it is a win-win situation. Either it receives more revenue from the bump in sales of its enterprise version of Windows 10, or potentially more Windows Store sales from employees of its business and education customers who are not blocked from the e-commerce site. More important to the company, keeping access open to Windows Store will help efforts to grow its Windows apps eco-system via third-party developers.
Microsoft is well aware of the potential of Windows Store to generate revenue for the Redmond giant, as well as for third-party developers who fill its store with their apps. In January, Microsoft noted in its blog:
As announced [Jan. 4], over 200 million PCs, tablets and phones across the globe are now running Windows 10, the fastest growth trajectory of any version of Windows, outpacing Windows 7 by nearly 140% and Windows 8 by nearly 400%. And, accounting for 67% of all Store downloads across PC and tablet in December.
These new Windows 10 customers are discovering and engaging with the Store at a higher rate than ever before with over 3 Billion Store visits since the Windows 10 launch. While it's early yet, the promise of Windows 10 is beginning to pay off. Over the holiday selling season, we saw a 2x increase in the number of paid transactions from PC and tablet customers over last year. Looking at the month of December, 60% of those paying customers were new to the Store, with Windows 10 generating 4.5x more revenue per device, as compared to Windows 8.
Both the growth of Windows 10 customer base and the increase in customer engagement (both with the Store and with the apps themselves) will enable us to deliver on our promise of providing a platform where developers can find growing success.
A potential workaround for administrators who still want to use Windows 10 Pro, yet block access to the Windows Store, would be to use PowerShell and run Get-AppxPackage *windowstore* | Remove-AppxPackage, according to a report in The Register.
In explaining its reason for the change in administrator rights in Windows 10 Pro, Microsoft told InformationWeek:
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.
When Microsoft shared its roadmap for Windows 10 in April to keep enterprise users apprised of which features it recently released, one aspect not heavily touted was the ability to retain Group Policy to continue to block access to Windows Store.