Microsoft’s surprise change to Windows 11 is a much more open approach to its Windows store, and it could mean we see Steam games listed in the future. This new open approach sees many changes to the Windows app store, including Microsoft connecting up to Amazon’s Appstore to list Android apps and allowing developers to keep 100 percent of their revenue by using third-party payment platforms. Microsoft also wants other alternative app stores, like Steam and Epic Games Store, to be part of this new Windows app store.
“Windows already in many ways hosts those stores, and if we can host it through the Microsoft Store then of course,” says Windows and device chief Panos Panay, in an interview with The Verge. “For sure, it means as others want to come to the Store, they’re very welcome. As a matter of fact, encouraged, and that’s kind of why we’re building out some of these policies.”
Steam has become a huge game and app store on Windows throughout the years, and Panay envisions a future for the Windows app store where people find the apps they want regardless of rival stores. “I really want this experience where you go to the store, you type the app in and you get the app you want,” says Panay.
While Microsoft is embracing the idea of an open store, there are some caveats. Microsoft will let developers keep 100 percent of the revenue from apps if they use alternative payment platforms, but this doesn’t apply to games. It’s a big omission, that comes just weeks after Microsoft announced that it would lower its cut of game revenues in the Microsoft Store from 30 to 12 percent starting on August 1st.
How this policy might apply to separate app stores isn’t clear, either. Microsoft appears to just be listing Android apps from Amazon’s Appstore in its own store, so it’s effectively linking out to another store. If Steam were to be integrated with the Windows app store, it would likely be through a similar linking scenario, which avoids apps and games being directly hosted in Microsoft’s app store.
This would still be an improvement over what exists on Windows 10 today. If you set up a new machine you have to search around the web for installers, grab only some of the apps that are available in Microsoft’s Windows store, or use a third-party package manager to manage which apps get installed. If Microsoft can pull off its open dream of a store with every Windows app listed, that will be a big benefit to every single Windows user.