The ongoing legal spat between Apple and Epic Games over alleged app store monopolies has sent ripples throughout the entire software industry. App store owners have started making changes to appease a growing number of disgruntled developers, and Microsoft is pushing itself at the forefront of those developer-friendly changes. To be fair, the upcoming changes to the Microsoft Store policies will indeed benefit developers, but one change, in particular, could be trading users’ security in exchange.
After being portrayed as an app ghost land, Microsoft is opening its Store doors wide open for almost all developers and apps. Not only is it allowing different payment systems, but it is also allowing regular win32 apps on the Store without using special packaging or wrappers. These apps will be installed just like you would if you had download a separate installer from a third-party website.
Unfortunately, that also means that the app can’t be updated via Microsoft Store either. Developers will have to provide an independent system to let users update the app, usually either built into the app or downloading another installer. This already removes one of the core benefits of apps delivered via a centralized store, but it might actually get worse.
By opening its doors to everyone, installers can come from almost anyone, including those not vetted by Microsoft. Considering the situation with Google Play Store, it also opens the doors for phishing scams and malware. Instead of becoming a central, trusted place to get apps, Microsoft Store could be turning into a catalog of apps only.
It’s understandable that Microsoft wants to fill the Microsoft Store with apps in contrast to its state since Windows 8. Unfortunately, that strategy might backfire if the Store can’t be trusted anyway. People might opt to just get their apps directly from the developers or other sources, which completely defeats the purpose of an app store in the first place.