Microsoft Removes Windows Store Blocking Policy from 10 Pro
Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2016 - 07:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, Windows Store
Well that's a great precedent, Microsoft. In Windows 10 1511, which released in November for the general public, they removed the group policy setting to disable Windows Store from Windows 10 Pro. From a consumer standpoint? I can't see this decision making any difference. I doubt that a group policy setting would be the best line of defense for any use case that requires a disabled Windows Store.
From an enterprise standpoint -- there might have been good reason to disable it. Microsoft's solution is to use Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education. This doesn't help those who already purchased a significant number of Windows 10 Pro licenses. I've also talked to someone in an enterprise environment who pointed to this decision as their reason to not upgrade to Windows 10 earlier in the year. Their organization cannot justify upgrading to Windows 10 Enterprise, and they have legal obligations that require locking down the apps that end-users can install.
So enterprises have been privately responding to this decision, apparently, but I'm not sure whether they're considering the bigger precedent. This is a concrete example of Microsoft removing user choice after they accepted the platform. This should start to make users think about all the other ways that Microsoft can alter the deal going forward, especially since you cannot just sit on Windows 10 1511 for a decade like you could with Windows XP or Windows 7.
Preventing users from blocking Windows Store (and the UWP) could be seen as a step toward deprecating the “wild west” method of installing software that we're used to. You can install unsigned Win32, for now. You can sideload UWP applications that aren't certified by Microsoft, although they need to be signed by a handful of root certificates, for now. This will always be a concern when dealing with a closed platform, where society isn't allowed to just fork away from disaster, but it's good to continually remind people of what could happen if decisions are extrapolated.
It would be wrong to assume malicious intent, though -- that stuff would leak all the time. But, with sufficient tunnel-vision, we could end up with negative consequences. It could be an enterprise worth of PCs becoming useless legal liabilities overnight, or it could be policies that allow a government to ban encryption software from installing on a platform.