How to Build, Deploy and Manage Metro Style Apps for Business Customers

As you build Metro style apps targeting businesses, you have options on how businesses can best deploy and manage these apps. You can use the Windows Store to distribute your app, or you can sell directly to a business and allow their IT admins to deploy it. In addition, IT admins have a set of […]

Metro Style Windows 8 Apps: build, deploy and manage

As you build Metro style apps targeting businesses, you have options on how businesses can best deploy and manage these apps. You can use the Windows Store to distribute your app, or you can sell directly to a business and allow their IT admins to deploy it. In addition, IT admins have a set of tools and capabilities that enable them to get these apps to the PCs that need them.

In a latest April 25 Windows Store for developers blog post, Arik Cohen, Lead Program Manager for Commerce and Licensing team, describes how to build, deploy and manage Metro style apps for business customers.

Cohen notes, that whether you are a developer or an IT admin--you've two options available for deployment:

  • "Make the app available through the Windows Store, which means the app must adhere to the same certification policies and process required for all apps in the Store
  • Build the app internally or sell it directly to the enterprise, which means IT admins must distribute the app directly to end-users within the enterprise, without involving the Store," he said.

"Business targeted apps are recommend to be listed in the Windows Store (presumably in the Business category). This will help the Business apps getting all of the benefits of any app in the Store including technical and content certification of the app, discoverability of the app on the web, ease of updates to the users of the app, and telemetry and reporting on the acquisition of the apps," Cohen explains.

'You have two options for selling your app on the Store: you can offer your apps for sale directly to the business user, with each individual user making the purchase directly from the Store. Or, offer the app as a free download, then manage the sales and licensing directly with the business," add Cohen. If you want to enforce a volume licensing model based on user counts for business sales, you can use a signed receipt from the Windows Store.

While the Windows Store is great to deploy apps to business customers, there're however apps that IT admins will distribute directly to the end-users. In this case, "Direct distribution" option is best for custom and proprietary line-of-business (LOB) apps, or enterprise software purchased directly from an ISV.

So, if you decide to build a Metro style app for distribution outside of the Store, you should:

  • Validate the technical compliance of the app. Run the Windows App Certification Kit for the technical certification tests the Windows Store uses, before you submit the app to the Store. The Dev Center has more information on how to validate your Metro style app with the Windows App Certification Kit.
  • Sign the app. To deploy the package to end-users, your app must be appropriately signed by a Certificate Authority that is trusted by the target PCs. "We recommend that you get your app packages signed with a certificate purchased from a Trusted Authority, and Windows trusts many Certificate Authorities without any additional configuration," Cohen said.

    The Publisher Name in the package manifest must match the Publisher Name in the certificate that is used to sign the app. Check the Dev Center for additional details on signing the app via Visual Studio.

    Visual Studio provides a self-signing test certificate that you can use for testing apps internally.

Before deploying the apps, IT admins need to make sure that they prepare the PCs where they are going to install the Metro style app. After confirming that the targeted machines meet the requirements, IT admins can deploy apps to their users.

The admins need to decide if they want to deploy the Metro style apps along with the initial Windows image (and be preinstalled for all users) or install them at runtime.

"IT admins can deploy the apps via the Windows image by using the App provisioning commands that allows admins to install the app for every user of the Windows installation when they first sign in. The app will be installed when any new user signs in to the system at the "Preparing your system" screen. Or, the Windows management solutions can either use the native API's for installing Metro style apps on systems, or they can use the native PowerShell cmdlets supported by Metro style apps," Cohen said.

To deploy updates to the app, IT admins can detect if the appropriate version of the app is already installed by using the Get-AppXPackage PowerShell cmdlet. IT admins can force an app update by using a PowerShell command: add-appxpackage \\fileserver\ContosoApp\v1.1\ExpenseApp.appx

Deploying apps to Windows RT devices can be done via a new management client that can communicate with a management infrastructure to deliver Metro style apps to users.

"IT admins will be able to manage Metro style apps from the Windows Store. To access the store, all the end-user needs is a Microsoft account. IT admins can use familiar tools like AppLocker to allow or restrict apps from the Store. This way, their users get access to the rich variety of apps in the Windows Store, but IT admins can restrict access as needed," writes Cohen concluding the post.