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Sideload Windows Store Apps in Windows 8

Published: March 12, 2014

Applies To: Windows 8

In Windows 8 you can sideload apps using various deployment strategies, select the level of automation you want, and deploy apps to one individual on a device or to all users on a device.

Windows Store apps bring a new dimension to the user experience, supporting multitouch and traditional keyboard and mouse user input. You can create or purchase line-of-business (LOB) apps for Windows 8 that use the new user interface (UI). But how do you deploy these apps? Do they need to be published in the Windows Store? Can you use existing deployment technologies and processes to deploy them?

This guide shows you how to deploy Windows 8 apps without using the Windows Store—a technique called sideloading. Sideloading makes deploying and managing your own LOB apps easy. You can use deployment technologies that you are likely already familiar with to sideload apps, such as Windows PowerShell, the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), System Center Configuration Manager, and Windows Intune. And you can select the level of automation that best fits your business and technical needs. You can deploy your apps to one individual on a device or to all users on a device. You can also deploy apps during the Windows 8 deployment process or after Windows 8 deployment to new or existing devices.

The ultimate goal of this guide is to help you create an enterprise app store. An enterprise app store provides similar features to the Windows Store but is exclusive to your organization. You create such a store by using an electronic distribution system, such as Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and Windows Intune. An enterprise app store allows you to manage the app through the entire software life cycle, including deployment, updates, supersedence, and uninstallation.

A Windows Store app is a new type of application that runs on Windows 8 devices, including devices running the Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows RT operating systems. By default, a Windows Store app fills the entire screen to reduce distractions and simplify the user experience. As shown in Figure 1, Windows Store apps can support different layouts and views, such as landscape, portrait, and snapped.

Windows Store App Views and Layouts

Figure 1. Windows Store App Layouts and Views

Of course, you can obtain apps through the Windows Store. But what if you have an LOB app for Windows 8 that you have developed internally or purchased from an independent software vendor? How can you deploy the LOB app to users?

You can use any combination of the following methods to deploy your Windows 8 apps to users:

  • Through the Windows Store. If you want to target a broad set of users both inside and outside your organization, list your app in the Windows Store. Apps that you distribute through the Windows Store get all of the benefits of any other app in the store, including technical and content certification of the app, discoverability of the app on the Web, easy app updates to users, and telemetry and reporting on app acquisition.

  • Sideloading. If you want to target users within your organization, you can sideload your apps. Sideloading allows you to distribute directly to the users in your organization. For apps that you distribute through sideloading, you will be responsible for validating and signing them, because sideloading bypasses the validation and signing requirements of the Windows Store. Also, you are responsible for deploying any app updates to your users.

This guide focuses on sideloading Windows 8 apps. For more information about distributing apps through the Windows Store, see Windows Store apps.

You can sideload your LOB apps by:

  • Provisioning apps. This method allows you to deploy the app to all users on targeted devices and allows you to include one or more apps as a standard part of the user experience on the device. Only users who have administrative privileges can provision apps. Conceptually, these apps are similar to the Windows 8 built-in apps.

  • Installing apps. This method allows you to deploy the app to individual users on targeted devices. Any user can install apps. Conceptually, these apps are similar to apps obtained through the Windows Store.

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