A More Open Windows Store Could Create New Challenges for Users

Can Microsoft monitor quality?

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft’s Windows app store is now open to third-party developers.
  • Experts warn that it will be harder for Microsoft to maintain control over quality and security with a more extensive selection of apps on the store.
  • Microsoft is slashing fees it charges to developers, but it’s not clear if that will translate to lower prices for users.
Opera browser available in the Microsoft Store

Microsoft

The Windows Store is getting bigger. 

Microsoft is opening its Windows app store even further, allowing third-party app stores to integrate into the Microsoft Store. Users will be able to find developers, including those on the Amazon and Epic Games storefronts, in the Microsoft Store in the coming months. But experts warn that growth could bring problems. 

"Opening up to third-party app marketplaces means there’s less control over store and app content, which means that, at the end of the day, the quality of apps users find in the Microsoft Store is going to be lower," tech expert Isaac Naor told Lifewire in an email interview. 

Windows Opens Up

The new Microsoft Store will launch to the public alongside Windows 11 on October 5, and will be available to Windows 10 users in the coming months. The store expansion means Windows users, hopefully, won’t have to search the web to find a wide range of apps.

Well-known apps like Discord, Zoom, VLC, TeamViewer, and Visual Studio Code currently are available in the Microsoft Store. There are also Progressive Web Apps (PWA) from Reddit, Wikipedia, TikTok, Tumblr, and others.

Epic Games Store app in the Microsoft Store

Microsoft

"Just like any other app, third-party storefront apps will have a product detail page that can be found via search or by browsing—so that users can easily find and install it with the same confidence as any other app in the Microsoft Store on Windows," Giorgio Sardo, the general manager of the Microsoft Store, wrote on the company’s blog

The Microsoft Store will make third-party apps from Android and Amazon Marketplace available, with plans to give those apps equal weight in the search results and app product pages. 

"By contrast, Apple is exclusive only to its premium and very specific app pages and does not integrate others, often only displaying apps designed explicitly for the device the user is searching with," Naor said. 

Microsoft's Bid to Bring Developers

Microsoft is cutting a sweet deal for developers to lure them into its store. The company said in a blog post that it would no longer require app developers to share revenue with Microsoft when apps manage their own in-app payment systems.

"Apple, in contrast, provides an incredible environment and resources for developers, but they take a sizable chunk of the revenue in return (30% most of the time, with some exceptions), and actively work to block developers from bypassing Apple's payment system, which has long been a gripe of app developers," Naor said. 

Close up of person using smartphone at home in sunlight

d3sign / Getty Images

It’s not clear if Microsoft’s generosity to developers will translate into lower prices for users.

"Partnerships with Amazon and Epic Games Store currently share no clear-cut benefits to consumers for cheaper games or apps," tech expert Liz Raad told Lifewire in an email interview. "Developers do get to keep their revenue, but it remains to be seen if developers choose to charge their users lower prices with this policy in place."

Video games developers will also be subject to a 12% "app tax" when selling their creations through the Microsoft Store, and though they keep the profits, this move may even raise app prices, Raad added. 

"Users, however, should now get a greater selection of apps, with Microsoft's plans to bring Android apps on board as well," Raad said. "There will also be greater support of apps across framework and packaging technology."

Compatibility Questions

While the newly opened app store will mean more choices, many potential compatibility, security, and hardware issues could arise when users download an app that's not explicitly designed and built for their device, Naor said. 

"Over time, as more apps in the Microsoft store are not designed and developed for users' devices, and the perceived level of quality goes down, users also lose trust in the store's inventory and the brand itself," he added.

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