Some Microsoft Store apps on Windows 11 will be updated externally
Ever since we’ve become accustomed to using curated stores to get apps on our smartphones, the benefits have been obvious. The apps are more secure, since they’ve been vetted by the platform vendor. They’re also seamlessly updated in the background, and usually easier to remove. With Windows 11, Microsoft is redesigning its app store and frankly, it’s removing all of these benefits.
You see, with the new Microsoft Store on Windows 11, developers can add any app that they want. Sure, we’ll still have UWP apps and packaged desktop apps, but if you don’t want to package your Win32 app, you can install it as-is. It’s all Microsoft’s plan to turn the store into a livelier commerce platform.
According to Microsoft’s own documentation, those unpackaged apps won’t be updated through the Windows 11 store either.
“Updates to Apps are not required to be submitted through the Store. End users will not be able to receive updates from the Store. Apps can be updated directly by You via your App that is installed on a Windows Device after download from the Store.”
Now for the first time, it’s up to a user to decide if the app-maker is to be trusted, rather than trusting the platform-maker to have made sure the app can be trusted. After all, now that app updates can come from outside sources, they can’t be checked by Microsoft. The company’s Rudy Huyn pointed out that Microsoft tried to be very transparent about who is updating the app.
You can decide to install or not an application based on who updates it. We tried to be very transparent, there is a text below the app name: pic.twitter.com/nRln1F9quE
— Rudy Huyn (@RudyHuyn) July 22, 2021
Unfortunately, even Huyn’s tweet isn’t entirely transparent. His screenshot came from last week’s discovery of Microsoft’s Edge Browser showing up in the Windows 11 store. However, the screenshot is cropped. If you look up the listing in the Microsoft Store, it actually says that it’s “Provided and updated by Microsoft Corporation II”, rather than just saying it’s from Microsoft Corporation. If you’re the type to try and spot phishing scams, the subtle name change would set off some red flags.
That app, however, is one of the first that you’ll notice to have a separate installer from the Windows 11 store. Clicking the install button there is the same experience that you’d get as if you downloaded the installer from the web and opened it. It’s no surprise that the app also updates itself without using the Microsoft Store.
None of this should come as a surprise. As soon as Microsoft said that it’s opening up the Windows 11 store to unpackaged apps, it was clear what we were in for. These apps won’t have the same one-click easy installation that we get from proper store apps, and Microsoft won’t be able to vet the content. Moving forward the Microsoft Store is just a central place to find apps.