No Win32 Updates in Windows 11's Microsoft Store

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 29, 2021
Windows 11 News

Microsoft revealed earlier this month that the Microsoft Store in the company's Windows 11 operating system would add support for Win32 applications among other things. The Windows 10 store supports UWP applications only, one reason for it being a ghost town since introduction in Windows 10 in 2015.

Not everything is bad when it comes to the Microsoft Store. Apps that get installed may be updated automatically, just like apps on Android or iOS devices do. The relaxing of Store submission guidelines, the acceptance of Win32 applications, was seen by many as a way to revive the store.

Not all users would use the Store, even if Win32 applications were offered in the Store, but the ability to download virus-tested programs such as Firefox or Adobe Photoshop directly from the Store certainly appeals to some users.

The latest update to the App Developer Agreement puts a damper on the support of Win32 applications in Microsoft's Windows 11 Store.

windows 11 store win32 apps no updates

Special requirements for Win32 applications are listed on page 32 of the agreement under EXHIBIT E: TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR WIN32 APP PACKAGES. Microsoft describes the following requirements when it comes to updates for Win32 applications:

Updates to Apps. Section 3(b) of the Agreement is amended and restated to read as follows: Updates to Apps are not required to be submitted through the Store. End users will not be able to receive updates from the Store. Apps can be updated directly by You via your App that is installed on a Windows Device after download from the Store.

This means, that Win32 applications won't be updated through Microsoft's Store. Developers may publish new versions, but updates won't happen through the Store. Microsoft notes that applications can be updated through in-app updates. Not all Win32 applications support in-application updates.

The only benefit of downloading a Win32 application from Microsoft's Store is that the executable files have been tested for viruses.

Does it mean that some Win32 applications, those without internal update functionality, will become out of date and in the event of security updates, insecure? Has Microsoft a plan to address this? What happens if a developer publishes an update of a win32 application to the Store? Will users be informed about these updates and get options to install the new copy of the application to replace the old? Or do they have to do this manually for each installed application? Lots of questions and no answers at this point.

Closing Words

Updates were one of the key reasons for installing Store versions of Win32 applications. With that gone, there is barely anything left that can be seen as an advantage over downloading programs from developer websites or even third-party download sites.

Now You: What do you think is Microsoft's reasoning for blocking Win32 program updates through the Microsoft Store? (via Dr. Windows)

No Win32 Updates in Windows 11's Microsoft Store
Article Name
No Win32 Updates in Windows 11's Microsoft Store
Win32 applications that are published in the Microsoft Store on Microsoft's new Windows 11 operating system can't be updated through the store.
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  1. joshieecs said on July 6, 2021 at 11:04 pm

    I think this is probably a preliminary document that will be revised as new features are rolled out to the store.

    There was (and still is) a big push to get this to work seamlessly:

    C:\> winget upgrade

    [ … list of your outdated apps … ]

    C:\> winget upgrade libreoffice

    [ … latest libreoffice msi package is downloaded and run to upgrades your installation … ]

    It would be bizarre for the officially supported and included “package manager” to support updates, but not the GUI storefront.

    And in cases where there is either developer support with packaging that plays well with the winget style manifest, or where the application uses a standard installer package like an msi (as with LibreOffice) or even a well-behaved 3rd party packager like InstallShield or Nullsoft that can properly upgrade an existing installation, it works fine. It’s still a mess outside of best-case scenarios.

    My only issue is that it’s cumbersome to download and run an entire fat installer for a minor update, rather than having a differential update. But that’s the same situation with scoop, chocolatey, and frankly, a lot self-updating apps, too.

    The language seems to imply “updates” are not available — but it does not say newer versions are not *allowed*, only that they aren’t *required*.

    I infer from that language, they were merely stating same limitation as “winget upgrade” — no true updates, e.g. differential updates, or “update only” packages that only distribute to users with an existing installation.

    But you could distribute a new *full* installer of a new version, that can both perform a new installation, *or* service an existing installation with an upgrade.

  2. WinDev said on July 5, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    Windows app developer here.
    This is not Microsoft forbidding updates for Win32 apps via the Store – it’s just simply technically not possible right now.

    Reason is there are no standard practices for Win32 regarding this. Every Win32 must implement their own updating solution. There is no way to streamline this easily.

    If a developer wants updates for their Win32 app via the Store, they need to package it in a special new format MSIX which has some limitations and is therefore rarely used today.

  3. common sense computing said on July 1, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    All of the tech giants would love to turn all computers into dumb terminals with zero user control.

  4. Kris said on July 1, 2021 at 7:59 am

    I know this probably isn’t the point, but why not post what you want on both the store and in a way that’s accessible via the new winget package manager utility, and then set up the app to utilize winget -h to update if MS is going to be a pain with the store (for example, creating a timed task at installation)? That way even if the store goes away, there’s still an install/update/uninstall option available. It may not be the most elegant solution, but it is, at least in my humble mind, a solution. Work with what you have.

    Just a thought.

  5. Jacky Know said on July 1, 2021 at 1:35 am

    The rule of thumb among users of MS Windows going back to XP to now is:

    Just use Windows, and avoid anything else by them.

    This rule has served me and other users very well.

  6. Ryan F said on June 30, 2021 at 6:39 pm

    Most disappointing, considering I had been hoping that the command-line Windows Package Manager in Windows 10 was a test for supporting win32 installs and updates through the new version of the store, and I’ve been pretty happy with Windows Package Manager. Shucks.

  7. Androvax said on June 30, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    Looks like Ms Store will still be as pointless as it is in W10.

  8. Squiggy said on June 30, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    They should just dump the stupid failure of a store and stop trying to be Apple.

  9. owl said on June 30, 2021 at 9:19 am

    > Now You: What do you think is Microsoft’s reasoning for blocking Win32 program updates through the Microsoft Store?

    As I don’t use the Microsoft Store, I don’t care why, as it is not important to me.
    However, I never looked into the Microsoft Store, which was limited to UWP, so I don’t know what it was like, but I did notice that the “Feedback Hub”, which I never used, was consuming hundreds of megabytes of RAM and CPU, and I’ve had the experience of removed it.
    When the Microsoft Store used, there is a concern about wasted resources and telemetry in its added applications. While the “update” feature would be desirable for users who value convenience, “simplification” would be desirable for users who are concerned about wasted resources and telemetry.

  10. Kabure said on June 30, 2021 at 8:48 am

    The article is sucked out of thin air. You misunderstand this point: the change merely means that the developer MAY (can) now update the app not only through the Store, but also independently (e.g. by the app’s built-in auto-update). Using the update mechanism via the Store (as it was before) is not forbidden by this clause.

    Recall that earlier it was a requirement in Agreement that updates MUST come through the Store. Updating via third-party methods was actually prohibited. Now it is allowed to update and not through the store. That is the whole point of Agreement changes.

    P.S. I don’t think this will help to revive this half-dead store, but this level of article is not worthy of Ghacks. This level of article is a level for glossy magazines. Shame.

    1. ULBoom said on July 1, 2021 at 1:12 am

      Updates for what? For about two years, graphics drivers’ GUI’s had to come from the store regardless of where the updates originated. Nvidia, Intel…

      Prohibited means something if it’s enforced. In the case I mentioned, MS got in bed with those two companies to hobble the update by stripping out their GUI’s, that’s all. You could get the driver update anywhere. I guess they enforced part of the agreement, the part when missing, most annoying to their pesky customers.

      The Store has been a confusing mess since forever. Agree it’s likely beyond repair.

  11. owl said on June 30, 2021 at 8:16 am

    There’s a serious incident case being reported about LinkedIn, which Microsoft acquired for $26.2 billion and integrated into its cloud service, Office 365!

    It was confirmed in April 2021 that 500 million people’s personal information was leaked from LinkedIn, one of the world’s largest business social networking sites, but it has been revealed that 700 million more people’s personal information has been sold on the dark web than what was confirmed.
    Exclusive: 700 Million LinkedIn Records Leaked June 2021 | Safety First
    LinkedIn breach reportedly exposes data of 92% of users – 9to5Mac
    According to Privacy Sharks, the data being sold includes information such as name, gender, email address, phone number, address, employment history, and social networking accounts. The person selling the personal information is a user claiming to be “TomLiner,” and a cross-check of the sample data for verification with other publicly available information indicates that the data is likely authentic.

    Satya Nadella email to employees on acquisition of LinkedIn | News Center
    Why is Microsoft buying LinkedIn? | The Verge
    Why is Microsoft buying LinkedIn?
    The following figure shows clarifies the correlation.

    1. ULBoom said on July 1, 2021 at 1:00 am

      Again? Not the first time. Won’t be the last, I’d bet.

  12. mj said on June 30, 2021 at 7:06 am
    >Windows 11 allows just about any app into the store regardless of how it is packaged, architecture, PWA, UWP, Win32, or even Android.
    >It now appears more Win32 apps are popping up
    >some big hitters are now available to download if you are on Windows 11, including Zoom Meetings, OBS Studio, and Canva

  13. Anonymous said on June 30, 2021 at 4:21 am

    Whats the point getting it from MS store now? I rather get the program off developer site then.

  14. AntTrick said on June 30, 2021 at 3:46 am

    Seriously… Blocking?
    It’s just it doesn’t make sense to open that, maybe later, but installing through store should be enough.
    That’s why in the dev win11 video, thet show how you can submit your URL and then you have to be able to run the installer in silent mode.
    Because it is not as easy as building the app specifically for Store.
    It is like uninstalling, do you think you will be able to uninstall the win32 apps from the store? no, I don’t expect that either.
    Win32 apps can be too complicated to allow that for now, there are many apps that don’t even update through the exe and have a separate updater, there are other that just go to Github and make you manually download and install the program. There are many things to take in consideration to say “oh this is terrible” maybe later they will allow it and open it more but for now I think just installing should be enough, if Microsoft store will be useful and developers don’t wipe the data on uninstalling the program, a simple uninstall and then install again from store should give the updated version anyway.

    I mean the package manager would be a better way to do these kind of things but who knows if they are going to even integrate that for the first release.
    I just think that making drama because Microsoft Store won’t be 100% perfect to offer for free a system for developers to update their apps instead of they integrating it themselves is kind of nonsense.

    1. ULBoom said on July 1, 2021 at 12:58 am

      None of my win 32 stuff is in there. Yeah, it’s easy to disable, enable, block and unblock most anything, uninstalling is a “better know what you’re doing or you get an OS reinstall” thing.

      There are many users who mod Windows into something really fast with most all extraneous stuff disabled except the core processes. My kids, for two. Gaming on OOB Windows is torture.

      The package manager is a bizarre thing MS has been assembling for years, now with their most recent “What can we do? Let’s play Linux again, Yay!” push. I guess the computers with Linux installed they sold for a while didn’t do so well, IDK. Anyway, I don’t trust it to be maintained the way distro pacmans are when barely anyone knows it exists. In good hands, it could work.

  15. ULBoom said on June 30, 2021 at 2:10 am

    MS is wandering with Windows, Win 11 is beyond pointless.

    For 2 years or so, Intel and Nvidia graphics GUI’s had to come from the store, realize it or not. Or no update or an update with no GUI (so useful.) No longer. Maybe I’ll block the store. I’m sure there’s some good stuff in there, for those who like flat square stuff.

    When I had to go there, I was in and out as fast as possible, afraid my computer would be turned into an X Box or something. Really? Sad there’s so little trust for so called “Tech.” They earned every bit of it.

  16. Brad said on June 29, 2021 at 11:37 pm

    The main appeal of using the Microsoft Store would be having single-click installs and having apps all updating with a unified updating mechanism – instead of a bunch of apps all needing their own updater running in the background.

    Win32 installers and updaters are a pretty crappy experience for average users who are used to mobile app stores where it’s just a single click and forget about it. Surely it would benefit developers as well to off-load their bandwidth to Microsoft and have their apps auto-updating through the Store. I don’t get this move.

    1. Giorgos said on July 2, 2021 at 1:33 am

      It baffles me to this day why Microsoft won’t simply implement a package manager, as used for now decades now in the Linux world. A centralised and unified system to update, as well as install new software.

      Neither its walled garden store, nor Windows Package Manager/winget provide that.

      Of course, with a proper and open package manager, they wouldn’t get their cut from developers. But then again, they wouldn’t be hosting anything. It would all come from the developer’s repository.

      1. joshieecs said on July 7, 2021 at 12:07 am

        They introduced the Microsoft Installer and .msi packages way back in 1999. It has and still does a good job of managing the local repository of installed packages once you acquire the .msi file. (Now the internet download is obvious, but back then most were acquired on CD or even floppy disk.) The part they never did was create repositories like the linux distros.

        Microsoft Installer works great to service and update installations, repair installations, uninstall installations. You could use msiexec.exe to manually uninstall a program cleanly from the original .msi file (which it keeps a copy of squirreled away) even if it was broke and gone from Add/Remove Programs. And that is what made it so much better than all the self-installers, more like a real package manager. It was a part of the operating system that managed your packages, and the packages were more or less declarative through a built-in manifest. msiexec.exe was doing the install, not some random guy’s setup.exe moving its guts around with file handles.

        The current Windows 10 store is based on a derivative, the .msix package, which is superior, more secure, but harder to work with.

        The big problem was creating a software *repository* (not the package manager) because of the pervasive commercialization on Windows.

        Every software company wants to push their own custom-made installer to market to you, upsell you, be hard to get rid of, not play not with competitors, hook into its own services and upgrade paths. So they all want to distribute executable programs to wizard and EULA you to root their thing into your system. A thing you either paid for or they had monetized in some way! They never had any interest in something as simple as “msiexec.exe install photoshop” and would probably have vehemently opposed any such thing!

        That is why there is no simple, sane package distribution system for Windows.
        The only people who ever wanted that were the end-users!

  17. devy said on June 29, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    What do you think is Microsoft’s reasoning for blocking Win32 program updates through the Microsoft Store?

    I don’t know. I never used any such store and never will.

    1. joshieecs said on July 6, 2021 at 11:38 pm

      There are hundreds of Win32 apps that are in the Windows 10 store right now that update just fine. The most popular apps in the store are Win32 apps. This has been the case for several years now. (iTunes, Spotify, nvidia control panel — not geforce experience, but the legacy nvidia control panel is even distributed through the windows 10 store!)

      For one example, here is a command line file recovery tool winfr.exe — you can get on Windows 10 store right now. It’s even made by Microsoft.

      The thing is, currently they have to be packaged into an msix installer, rather than something else like a msi, exe, or even just a folder in a zip file. That is what is changing. They are opening the doors to those more traditional ways people manage software on Windows. Msix is a good system overall with a much more robust security model, but it’s more difficult to do, and comes with limitations that just don’t work well with bespoke installers like Adobe Cloud or Steam or Office.

  18. Anonymous said on June 29, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    “What do you think is Microsoft’s reasoning for blocking Win32 program updates through the Microsoft Store?”

    They are inept thugs. They only know how to exploit their monopoly, they have never understood how to sell something people actually want.

    1. ULBoom said on July 1, 2021 at 12:41 am

      Losing billions when you play with market caps of a trillion is almost meaningless. Cost of doing business. Sad, really.

      Me buying a usb drive and breaking it off because I wasn’t paying attention and bumped into it. Except I’d probably be more disappointed and more careful next time.

      1. owl said on July 1, 2021 at 9:24 am

        > Losing billions when you play with market caps of a trillion is almost meaningless. Cost of doing business. Sad, really.

        That’s exactly the crux of the matter.
        For Microsoft, a giant corporation with a capitalization of one trillion dollars, ten billion dollars is a “small sum (paltry of money)” of sorts.
        It is far more efficient to buy up promising companies and technologies than to invest time and human resources to develop products and technologies in-house. Rather than compete with rivals, it is better to take them under your wing through acquisition, inherit their user base, and eliminate their competitive edge.

        Such measures have been common since the beginning of time and are a basic military strategy. In society, it is an everyday occurrence, not only in industry, but also in commerce, entertainment (professional sports, such as the New York Yankees and Real Madrid, professional cycling, and automobile racing, etc., etc.).

        In this world, everything depends on capital power.
        Microsoft has been consistent with its “M&A” strategy since its inception.
        In order to gain an advantage in the market, the company has completely divided itself into “capital power” rather than technological power.

        Society should not tolerate “Monopolistic market presence”, and users should distance themselves from monopolistic companies as much as possible.

      2. owl said on July 1, 2021 at 10:48 am

        Microsoft’s top priority is the stock market, the source of its “capital strength”, and appealing to capitalists to raise capital, is important. Capitalists are investing for “high returns” and “assured profits”. The key to this is the primary balance and the future (Will the company be a winner, will its market develop, or will it be more advantageous than other investments?) of the market.

        There is a “complete divergence” between what end users expect (product perfection and user experience) from Microsoft, and what Microsoft focuses on (It’s all about financing: Primary balance is top priority).

        The business market is responsible for the revenue from the products, and the home user is just an “extra”.
        Furthermore, Microsoft owns the rights to the products, and the users are lent the products by license.
        There is no sovereignty for home users. That is the reality.

    2. Anonymous said on June 29, 2021 at 10:17 pm

      Because W32 is old technology and does not have the grunt to push the sloppily-programmed resource-heavy rubbish second-rate (cheap to hire) programmers are forced to churn out too quickly?

      1. beemeup5 said on June 30, 2021 at 1:15 am

        “sloppily-programmed resource-heavy rubbish” is basically all Electron apps.

        Win32 is basically 99.9999% of all the useful programs on Windows. UWP is DOA just like the Store. They’ve had years to build momentum and it just didn’t happen. It’ll die like the Zune, only the Zune was actually a decent product. They couldn’t even get Skype to work even though all they had to do was not shoot themselves in the foot. Today, it’s not Skype everywhere, it’s Zoom. Even Microsoft has forsaken it and is now pushing Teams.

        A company that can’t even get an incumbent program to remain dominant wants to push an entire platform that no one wants? Yeah fat chance. Some things can’t be solved by throwing more money at it. Microsoft lost a billion dollars on Zune and billions more on Skype and it appears they still haven’t quite gotten their heads out of their asses.

      2. owl said on June 30, 2021 at 8:45 am

        > Microsoft lost a billion dollars on Zune and billions more on Skype…

        The cost of the LinkedIn acquisition is an order of magnitude, $26.2 billion!

        Microsoft is seen as a leading company in advanced technology, but the reality is that it is nothing more than a Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) company.
        It has been monopolizing the market by acquiring promising technologies and companies, and buying up would-be adversaries.
        Perhaps the Zune and Skype were acquired because they were a hindrance to Microsoft.

      3. owl said on June 30, 2021 at 9:55 am

        > Perhaps the Zune and Skype were acquired because they were a hindrance to Microsoft.

        In layman’s terms, it appears to be a deliberated conspiracy to book a “loss” in order to bury Zune and Skype, which do not fit into Microsoft’s business plan “Microsoft Dynamics”.
        It is a common practice in capitalist society, and a historical fact of Microsoft.

        Microsoft Dynamics

  19. wad said on June 29, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    why would you want the store to update your win32 stuff? you have zero control over it, can’t make it stop updating certain apps, etc… and that’s just the uwp crap..

    1. Sean said on June 29, 2021 at 10:15 pm

      It’s called, ease of use and convenience. Imagine, updating all your stuff from one place only. That would be a great choice for users to have.

      1. ULBoom said on July 1, 2021 at 12:34 am

        It would be a choice. If all you use are store apps and are happy with windows’ update behavior. Those who have spent time with the OS would be naive to allow this. None of my 32 bit apps are in the store and I can pretty much guarantee never will be.

  20. WorknMan said on June 29, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    > Does it mean that some Win32 applications, those without internal update functionality, will become out of date and in the event of security updates, insecure?

    If the app does not have any mechanism to update itself, this is probably going to happen anyway, as I doubt users are going to periodically check the app’s website to see if any updates are available.

  21. John B said on June 29, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    A friend asked me to work on some code for him, something .NET related though UWP related. It was an absolute NIGHTMARE! Literally something you could do in 100 characters or less in HTML and CSS would require 10,000 characters or more. Absolute garbage and only Microsoft was push something so wretched.

    1. Lucid00 said on July 3, 2021 at 7:05 am

      You can write UWP apps in HTML and CSS (you could do this since the inception of UWP, could even do it on the original .appx platform on Windows 8).

    2. Dumbledalf said on June 29, 2021 at 9:25 pm

      That’s why their store is virtually dead. No developers want to bother with it, mostly because there is no market for their efforts. It’s only Microsoft pushing it with Xbox Pass and when they made games like AoE1:DE and AoE2:DE be initially MS Store-exclusive until they released them on Steam a while later.

      It will be interesting with Windows 11 and the Android apps, maybe that will make it more alive. I heard that side-loading .APK files will be possible, which could also mean that people may be able to install Google Play. If there is support for playing games like emulators do – with WASD and other support, it might really take off, if they provide better performance than any of the emulators out there.

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