Microsoft Specifies End Dates for Windows 8 and 8.1 Apps in Microsoft Store
Microsoft wants developers of Windows 8/8.1 applications in the Microsoft Store to port their apps to Windows 10, and it described some coming app deadlines, perhaps as an incentive.
Specifically, Microsoft plans to end the ability of developers to distribute new application submissions to the Microsoft Store for Windows 8/8.1 or Windows Phone 8.x operating systems. New app submissions for those OSes will end, starting on Oct. 31, 2018, according to a Monday Microsoft announcement
This restriction won't apply to existing apps in the Microsoft Store. Developers with existing apps for Windows 8/8.1 or Windows Phone 8.x will still be able to submit application updates after the Oct. 31 date. However, these developers still will be facing some future time limits.
In the case of Windows 8/8.1 apps, the ability to provide application updates from the Microsoft Store will be ending on July 1, 2023, Microsoft's announcement indicated.
App update support from the Microsoft Store is even shorter for Windows Phone app developers. Microsoft plans to "stop distributing app updates to Windows Phone 8.x or earlier devices" from the Microsoft Store on July 1, 2019.
It may seem that Microsoft is punishing Windows Phone app developers prematurely, but the July 1, 2019 end date actually could be thought of as an extension of sorts. Windows Phone 8.1 actually fell out of Microsoft's support policy on July 11, 2017, meaning that Microsoft no longer issues security and quality updates to it. It's a potentially an unsafe OS to use.
In contrast, the Windows 8.1 OS is scheduled to fall out of support on Jan. 10, 2023. Microsoft will permit developers to distribute app updates from the Microsoft Store for about seven months after that particular OS' end date.
As for Windows 8, it lost support on Jan. 12, 2016. Windows 8 is a dead OS, so it's surprising that Microsoft is still allowing Microsoft Store app updates to continue for it till July 1, 2023.
According to Microsoft's App Developer Agreement document, Microsoft can end its agreement with developers for any reason after giving "at least sixty (60) days' written notice." There doesn't appear to be much language in the agreement about Microsoft's role with regard to Microsoft Store app update support, except that Microsoft tests and certifies the updates. Developers are described as being responsible for submitting app updates and they are not permitted to add new functionality to their apps except after providing written notice to the customer.
Microsoft's announcement didn't describe Microsoft Store support for Windows 10 apps. However, each Windows 10 release is supported for just 18 months under Microsoft's "Windows as a service" scheme. Developer apps possibly could get removed from the store if they don't keep current. However, Microsoft seems not to have crafted a formal policy yet, according to Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst with independent consultancy Directions on Microsoft, based in Kirkland, Wash.
"There may be some challenges in the future if Microsoft starts removing applications from the Store if they don't support the latest versions of Windows 10," commented Sanfilippo via e-mail. "This could mean that developers will have to regularly test and update their applications with the frequently arriving Windows 10 builds in order to remain published. However, there's been no indication of such a policy yet."
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.