Another blow to UWP as Microsoft could soon deprecate the Windows 10 Stores for Business and Education
The Microsoft Store, originally known as the Windows 10 Store, was conceived as a one-stop shop for all things Windows 10 and apps developed using the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) APIs. As much as Microsoft would have liked, the company hasn't had the best of success with the Store. The latest news coming in is that the company is planning to axe the Microsoft Store for Business and Microsoft Store for Education, according to a report by known Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley citing internal sources familiar with the matter.
The Microsoft Stores for Business and Education provide a platform to distribute custom line-of-business (LOB) apps within an organization for PCs running Windows 10. These Stores are wholly managed by the IT admins to distribute and update LOB apps just like the regular Microsoft Store for consumers. However, developer interest in UWP has been steadily waning due to API restrictions, and many developers are just repackaging Win32 apps in a .appx container.
Foley says that Microsoft is internally contemplating on ways to blur the lines between UWP and Win32 by simply calling them Windows Apps and looking at distribution options outside the Store. Apparently, the Business and Education Stores are being planned for deprecation on June 30, 2020. It remains to be seen if Microsoft will inform businesses beforehand about this decision and give them proper alternatives. Foley's contacts also seem to suggest that the Microsoft Store client's future is "uncertain" at this point.
Microsoft is not exactly known for sticking to its promises, and we've been seeing this from the days of Windows Phone. The Redmond-giant wasn't really successful in courting developers to distribute via the Store since there is no dearth for availability of Windows apps via innumerable other sources. With Phone out of the equation for the moment, the only reason why a developer would need to rely on UWP is app scalability across ARM, PC, Xbox, and HoloLens with native pen and ink support. The recent move to allow full native Win32 games on the Store without having to retool them for UWP is another blow to Microsoft's dreams of a grand unified ecosystem.
However, if Microsoft indeed does axe the client Store as well, one begets the question of how app distribution will be handled for upcoming Surface devices such as the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo. Hopefully, Microsoft comes up with a viable strategy and sticks to it for good as UWP as a platform is still a very promising one — it is the implementation that is the issue.