I was amused to read Mary Jo Foley’s latest report at ZDNet this morning. She relays that Microsoft has dropped the ability for Windows admins to keep blocking Store access in Windows 10 Pro. Their reasoning is apparently two-pronged:
- According to Microsoft, Store access is “required for all versions of Windows 10 except Enterprise and Education ‘by design'”
- Those organizations that really want clamp-down capability on Windows 10 desktops should buy licenses for Enterprise, not Pro
Though KB3135667 looks like troubleshooting advice, it’s really a policy statement (not Group Policy, either).
Why Blocking Store Access for Win10Pro Is Valid No Mo’
The official change is covered in KB Article 3135667. It is entitled “Can’t disable Windows Store in Windows 10 Pro through Group Policy.” In asking MS to confirm this change, MJ Foley asked why blocking Store access in Windows 10 Pro is no longer supported. IMO, that response is a masterwork of doublespeak:
Microsoft is focused on helping enterprises manage their environment while giving people choice in the apps and devices they use to be productive across work and life. Windows 10 Enterprise is our offering that provides IT pros with the most granular control over company devices. Windows 10 Pro offers a subset of those capabilities and is recommended for small and mid-size businesses looking for some management controls, but not the full suite necessary for IT pros at larger enterprises. The ability to block access to the Windows Store is typically for organizations who want more control over corporate-owned devices. This fits into the value of Windows 10 Enterprise.
My translation: to maintain complete control over your Windows deployments, don’t buy the retail-oriented Windows 10 Pro. Instead, you must sign up for a volume license agreement, and jump on the Windows 10 Enterprise bus. Any questions? MJ Foley’s summation of the forces driving this change is also a gem: “Driving visibility and use of Windows Store has been one of Microsoft’s goals with Windows 10.” Given that OS revenues are dropping, and that commissions on Windows Store sales are turning into a cash cow, I guess this makes sense — at least, to Microsoft. I’m wondering if business customers who’ve shied away from volume licensing until now feel the same. Having myself recently been inducted into the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center, I think the answer is “probably not!”
[Thanks to Shawn Brink over at the News Forum at TenForums.com for bringing this matter to my attention. Keep up the good work!]