Getting started with Windows Store for Business
With the new Windows Store for Business, organizations can make volume purchases of Windows apps. The Store for Business provides app purchases based on organizational identity, flexible distribution options, and the ability to reclaim or re-use licenses. Organizations can also use the Store for Business to create a private store for their employees that includes apps from the Store, as well private Line-of-Business (LOB) apps or deploy purchased apps offline by Configuration Manager or Microsoft Intune.
Choose the best app store for the right scenario.
With the introduction of Windows Store for Business we’ve an additional choice to provide and deliver apps to end-users. The challenge in this landscape of app stores is to choose the right portal for the right scenario!
You’ll need this software to work with the Store for Business.
- IT Pros that are administering Store for Business need a browser compatible with Store for Business running on a PC or mobile device. Supported browsers include: Internet Explorer 10 or later, Microsoft Edge, or current versions of Chrome or Firefox.
- Employees using apps from Store for Business need Windows 10, Version 1511 running on a PC or mobile device.
Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AD) accounts for your employees:
- Admins need Azure AD accounts to sign up for the Store for Business, and then to sign in, get apps, distribute apps, and manage app licenses.
- Employees need Azure AD account when they access Store for Business content from Windows deices.
- If you use a management tool to distribute and manage online-licensed apps, all employees will need an Azure AD account
- For offline-licensed apps, Azure AD accounts are not required for employees.
While not required, you can use a management tool to distribute and manage apps. Using a management tool allows you to distribute content, scope app availability, and control when app updates are installed. This might make sense for larger organizations that already use a management tool. A couple of things to note about management tools:
- Need to integrate with Windows 10 management framework and Azure AD.
- Need to sync with the Store for Business inventory to distribute apps.
How does the Store for Business work?
The first step for getting your organization started with the Store for Business is signing up. For more information, see Sign up for the Store for Business.
To sign up for the Business store, you need an Azure AD account and you must be a Global Administrator for your organization.
After your admin signs up for the Store for Business, they can assign roles to other employees in your company. These are the roles and their permissions.
In some cases, admins will need to add Azure Active Directory (AD) accounts for their employees. For more information, see Manage user accounts and groups. Also, if your organization plans to use a management tool, you’ll need to configure your management tool to sync with the Store for Business.
Get apps and content
Once signed in to the Store for Business, you can browse and search for all products in the Store for Business catalog. For now, apps in the Store for Business are free. Over time, when paid apps are available, you’ll have more options for paying for apps.
These app types are supported in the Store for Business:
- Universal Windows Platform apps
- Universal Windows apps, by device: Phone, Surface Hub, IOT devices , HoloLens
Apps purchased from the Store for Business only work on Windows 10 devices. Line-of-business (LOB) apps are also supported via the Business store. You can invite IT developers or ISVs to be LOB publishers for your organization. This allows them to submit apps via the developer center that are only available to your organization. These apps can be distributed using the distribution methods discussed in this topic.
App licensing model
The Business store supports two options to license apps: online and offline. Online licensing is the default licensing model and is similar to the Windows Store. Online licensed apps require users and devices to connect to the Store for Business service to acquire an app and its license.
Offline licensing is a new licensing option for Windows 10. With offline licenses, organizations can cache apps and their licenses to deploy within their network. ISVs or devs can opt-in their apps for offline licensing when they submit them to the developer center. For more information, see Apps in the Store for Business.
Distribute apps and content
App distribution is handled through two channels, either through the Store for Business, or using a management tool. You can use either or both distribution methods in your organization.
Using the Store for Business – Distribution options for the Store for Business:
- Email link – After purchasing an app, admins can send employees a link in an email message. Employees can click the link to install the app.
- Curate private store for all employees – A private store can include content you’ve purchased from the Store, and your line-of-business apps that you’ve submitted to the Store for Business. Apps in your private store are available to all of your employees. They can browse the private store and install apps when needed.
- To use the options above users must be signed in with an Azure AD account on a Windows 10 device.
Using a management tool – For larger organizations that might want a greater level of control over how apps are distributed and managed, a management tools provides other distribution options:
- Scoped content distribution – Ability to scope content distribution to specific groups of employees.
- Install apps for employees – Employees are not responsible for installing apps. Management tool installs apps for employees.
Management tools can synchronize content that has been acquired in the Store for Business. If an offline application has been purchased this will also include the app package, license and metadata for the app (like, icons, count, or localized product descriptions). Using the metadata, management tools can enable portals or apps as a destination for employees to acquire apps.
Manage Store for Business settings and content
Once you are signed up with the Business store and have purchased apps, Admins can manage Store for Business settings and inventory.
Manage Store for Business settings
- Assign and change roles for employees or groups
- Device Guard signing
- Register a management server to deploy and install content
- Manage relationships with LOB publishers
- Manage offline licenses
- Update the name of your private store
- Assign app licenses to employees
- Reclaim and reassign app licenses
- Manage app updates for all apps, or customize updates for each app. Online apps will automatically update from the Store. Offline apps can be updated using a management server.
- Download apps for offline installs
For more information, see Manage settings in the Store for Business and Manage apps.
Once you have assigned applications, these will show up in your company’s section of the Business store once users logged on with their Work- or School Account (Azure AD Account). As the illustration below shows I still able to combine both Work- or School account and my personal Microsoft Account (former known as Live ID).
The installing process is straightforward as with regular app installations through the Windows Store.
Once installed, end users are able to use the new installed app. As easy as that!
The same experience on Windows 10 devices is provided on Windows Mobile 10 where users just simply go to the Windows Store App, log-on with their Work- or School Account and install the apps required which made available by your company.
The Windows Store for Business is the place where IT decision makers and administrators find, acquire, manage, and distribute apps to Windows 10 devices. The greatest benefit for end-users they can just install apps from the Windows Store with a single account, without having to use their personal Microsoft Accounts. With the Windows Store for Business we’ve an additional choice to provide and deliver apps to end-users.
In my next blog about the Windows Store for Business I’ll go into more details how easily it’s to retrieve app’s (offline) and made them available in your company with Microsoft Intune or Configuration Manager.
Great, thank you for the excellent article, it is very useful information for online businesses.
thank you for this article, it has been very helpful! Especially the overview “Choose the best app store for the right scenario” is an excellent summary of the available options. I have a question however regarding the mentioned point “Updates installed by WU / WSUS”: This sounds great but I have not been able to find ANY information on how to actually achieve that. Have you made any experiences with this topic in the meantime by chance? If yes: are you willing to share? :-)
Hi Alexander, thank you for reaching out and reading my blog. Regarding your question of controlling updates for your universal windows (store) apps, it’s controlled by the nature of moderns apps are updated by the Windows Store. This isn’t controlled WU or WSUS whatsoever. Management tools like Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune and 3rd party MDM solutions provides you controls (OMA-URI, policy Configuration Service Provider (CSP)) to control this behavior.