Monday February 27, 2017

Microsoft to Block Non-Windows Store Apps in Windows 10?

A few sites out there have been running with this alarmist headline today, and boy does it sound scary, right? Could windows 10 be going on full device-style lockdown, requiring you to use apps from the Windows Store? Well, not so fast. First off, as Beta News reports, this is only an option which can be enabled should you so desire, and while it is in the current preview version of the Creators Update coming this year, there is no indication if it will be in the final version or any future version at all.

While the concept of a locked down Windows where you, the user, do not have the freedom to install the software of your choice does sound like a grim dystopian future, and it may actually happen on the future Cloud version of the operating system, Microsoft's alternative to ChromeOS, it is also not without its merits. The majority of all exploits used to infect Windows machines come not from the Operating System itself, but rather from installed applications and browser plugins. What if you could have a package manager like under Linux, a Windows Update which updates not only Microsoft software and components of the operating system to the latest version, but also manages all installed software? This could be a huge benefit, helping make sure there is not some vulnerable outdated application installed somewhere you forgot about, and it also removes the need for each software vendor to install their own updater app, constantly pestering you about updates.

If they go down this road, however, I'd insist that they take more of the Steam approach, where if you purchase your software elsewhere, you can add it to the system using a key or other means, so they don't monopolize the distribution of software for all Windows machines, which account for some 90% of all computers out there. There also needs to be an out, maybe requiring special administrative privileges, for those times you just need that software that's not in the official store.

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Why would you want to do this? Well, blocking non-Windows Store software means blocking traditional programs, and these are the ones that are more liable to be malicious or pose a security threat. Apps that have made it into the Windows Store have -- in theory -- been vetted to some degree, and are less able to wreak havoc. Here's what you need to do:

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