Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

Summary: Microsoft is going to allow business users to distribute their internal Windows 8 Metro-style apps using the Windows Store (or circumventing it, if they prefer).

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As part of its Windows 8 app store preview on December 6, Microsoft officials shared a few details about its plans to offer business users private marketplace functionality on their Windows 8 tablets and PCs.

Some businesses want to launch applications for use by their own employees via "private marketplaces." Example: Say a company wants to make available to its own employees an expense report line-of-business app developed by a company's IT department (as Microsoft shows in the screen shot at right, which you can enlarge by clicking on it). The IT staff may want to distribute test and final versions of this app to all their Windows 8 users but don't want those not working at the company to see it in the Store. This is where "private marketplaces" come into play.

Microsoft enabled private marketplace functionality for Windows Phone "Mango" earlier this summer. It sounds like the company is planning to offer a similar path to business users for their Windows 8 Metro-style apps.

What about Desktop Apps, aka non-Metro-style apps? Windows 8 Desktop Apps aren't going to be downloadable from the Windows Store, Microsoft officials said earlier this year. However, Microsoft is going to allow business users to circumvent the Windows Store if they so desire in order to distribute their private Metro-style apps, officials said yesterday. Will Microsoft allow them to do the same for Desktop Apps on Windows 8? I asked; no word so far.

Here's what the Softies are saying so far about the Windows 8 private marketplace functionality, from a December 6 post on the just-launched "Windows Store for Developers" blog:

"Apps listed in the Store are visible to all Windows 8 users, so enterprise apps can be offered in the Store, just like any other Metro style app. However, we also offer support for enterprises that want direct control over the deployment of Metro style apps.

"Enterprises can choose to limit access to the Windows Store catalog by their employees, or allow access but restrict certain apps. In addition, enterprises can choose to deploy Metro style apps directly to PCs, without going through the Store infrastructure. For Windows 8 Beta, IT administrators can use group policy to permit Metro style app installations, as long as the apps are signed by trusted publishers and the machines are joined to the domain. Then the IT admin can use (P)owershell commandlets to manage those Metro-style apps on Windows 8....

"This deployment flexibility ensures that employees have software on the devices they prefer while IT can continue to manage software payloads based on their company’s needs and regulation."

Here are some related questions (in addition to the Desktop App question I posed above) that Microsoft officials are not answering at this point in time:

  • Do private marketplace apps delivered via the Windows Store still need to go through the Windows Store certification and verification process?
  • Can businesses also deliver test/beta (not just final) versions of their apps using this private marketplace functionality?
  • When will the private marketplace support be available? With the February 2012 beta? Or later?
  • How similar/dissimilar is this to what Microsoft is doing with Windows Phone?

What else do you want to know --not that we'll get answers, mind you -- about private marketplace support on Windows 8?

Topics: Windows, Apps, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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14 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

    As a Corp guy this makes me happy, but there are tons of questions around integration into existing management utilities like SCCM and ActiveSync.
    frankwick
  • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

    And this is how Microsoft will battle Apple... in the enterprise... Apple biggest weekness. Your company uses these tablets at work, you become familar with them and when it comes time to pickup your own for home you'll get what your are used to.
    clcrockett
  • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

    I would like to know if you can have a private store for people that are not on our network? this would enable enterprises to put apps in the store that other enterprises could use. The apps would only be available to the users that are allowed, even in another enterprise.
    nanderto
    • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

      @nanderto I would surmise MS will offer a way to 'Federate' your private marketplace to other trusted domains of your choosing since they already do it several of their core technologies already.
      dtdono0
  • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

    As far as private deployment of desktop apps. this should function the same way that it does today for applications -- XCopy Deploy for .Net and setup packages for other package types. The difficult spot here is deployment of Metro-Styled apps without the market place, since Metro-Style applications are so heavily dependant upon the registry entries to function.
    jimwooley@...
    • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

      @jimwooley@... Agreed. We should still be able to use standard configuration tools like SMS, SCCM, SCOM, etc. to install and monitor desktop applications. However, since there is no installer mechanism for Metro-apps, this private store is exactly the functionality needed.
      Harry S.
  • Private Apps For Windows Phone???

    Are there going to be a Private App store feature for Windows Phone ?
    Muru32
  • Security

    As with any other product security has to be your number one issue in the enterprise. Distributing private apps which may have business or national security implications by putting them onto a third party site over which you do not have 100% control is asking for trouble.
    If you are thinking of this with your in-house applications especially if those apps encapsulate your business IP (other than if you are selling the software) why would you risk your business in this way?
    sysop-dr
    • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

      @sysop-dr Most businesses don't affect national security.

      And this is actually a way to have that control.
      CobraA1
    • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

      @sysop-dr

      I'm guessing Windows 8 server will include the 'private marketplace' feature so you don't have to send or receive anything from outside your corporate firewall.
      dtdono0
  • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

    This smartphone-ification of a desktop OS is terrible. I don't want an "exception"; I don't want a new OS that tells me how I'm allowed or not allowed to install software in the first place. I can't believe the enterprise isn't burning Microsoft's ears already with complaints about this "store" idea.
    jgm@...
  • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

    windows 8 is dead we will not buy it because it is live that is wrong when i play a game i turn off the internet so if i have windows 8 i have to be on the net 23 hours a day so i say hell no
    ttx19
  • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

    On top of Windows 8 not offering any kind of ground breaking software technology that has enough business value to justify re-writing of existing corporate applications, you also have to consider there are a lot of developers who want to program in high level languages. Unfortunately MS is pushing HTML5/Javascript as the first class citizen going forward.

    I can already see a new t-shirt spinoff from Visual Studio's old motto:
    'Life runs on code'
    'Now life runs on Javascript'
    'Hackers also love Javascript'
    dtdono0
    • RE: Microsoft to offer Windows 8 business users a way to distribute private apps

      @dtdono0
      You've seen the Windows 8 block diagram right? Yes HTML/Javascript becomes a first class WinRT citizen, but C#/XAML & C++/XAML are also first class citizens. If you've written a lick of WPF or Silverlight it isn't going to be a huge move.
      relwolf