Microsoft's latest Windows Store strategy involves a rebrand plus Progressive Web Apps

Microsoft is continuing to try to improve the app store built into Windows 10 and to give users more reasons to use it.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has been struggling to make the Windows Store robust and appealing to its customers.

Credit: Microsoft

The company isn't giving up on the Store. In fact, it seems Microsoft has a couple of new ideas that officials are counting on to try to grow the Store's appeal.

Microsoft looks to be renaming the Windows 10 Store to "Microsoft Store." The latest Release Preview Ring build of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update features this new name and a new and more colorful shopping bag icon to represent the Store. (As Paul Thurrott of Thurrott.com notes, this could just be Microsoft doing some more A/B testing, like the company has done around Story Remix/Photos.)

So far, Microsoft has not made an official announcement that it plans to rename the Windows Store. I asked officials if the rebrand is a done deal, but haven't heard back.

Update (5:30 p.m. ET): Microsoft officials won't say. The official generic statement: "We are constantly evaluating features in Windows 10 through the Windows Insider Program in an effort to improve the customer experience."

Microsoft also is looking at Progressive Web Apps as a new way to increase the number and quality of apps located in the Store. Google has been the main champion of Progressive Web Apps, but Microsoft has indicated it plans to support them, as well.

During last week's Microsoft Edge Web Summit, company officials said they would be bringing more Progressive Web Apps to the Windows Store with the next Windows 10 release -- aka "Redstone 4," which is targeted for March 2018.

Microsoft will be encouraging developers to make these apps available in the Store and make them able to work with Windows 10 features, like Action Center. Microsoft is planning to crawl and index Progressive Web Apps, convert them to APPX and make them searchable and browsable in the Store, officials said.

"Progressive are just Web apps with a great user experience," said Kirupa Chinnathambi during the Edge Summit. "These apps start and run really fast and work across a variety of screen sizes and input modes."

Chinnathambi said developers shouldn't have to choose between doing native apps or Progressive Web Apps; instead, it's all about the "and," he claimed.

Progressive Web Apps will be viewable on Windows 10 using the Microsoft Edge browser -- which will likely be another way that Microsoft attempts to get more users to try/use the currently little-used browser built into Windows 10.

The Microsoft Teams app is an example of a Progressive Web App that's coming soon to the Store.

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