Windows 8 gives us the awesome Windows Store where we can find and install Windows 8 applications that use the new Modern UI. It is pretty intuitive to find and install the applications. But I have had a few questions from folks about how to update and/or upgrade Windows 8 applications after they are installed.

One of the first things to consider is whether you as an Administrator will even allow access to the Windows Store by your end-users or if you will block it and only sideload LOB apps. If you decide to block access all together, this can be accomplished easily using Group Policy (for more information see – TechNet: Managing Client Access to the Windows Store).

If you grant access to the Windows Store, you should first plan out your update and upgrade strategy for Windows 8 Applications.

You can let end-users do all of their own updating

You can manage it yourself

Or you can do a combination of both.

In this article I am going to focus on end-user management (with a small piece of IT management at the end). I am working on a more detailed posting focusing on how System Admins can fully manage Windows 8 apps that I will get posted at a later date)

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The simplest way for end-users to update Windows 8 applications is through the Windows Store itself. When on the start screen, users will see the Store tile and, if there are updates to applications, they will see a number on the live tile -

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The number indicates the number of applications for which updates exist. To update the apps, simply go into the Store and look in the upper right hand corner where users will see the corresponding number of applications with available updates -

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Tap or click on this item and you will see the individual applications that are available for updating -

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By default, all applications are automatically selected for updating. The end-user can tap or click on “Install” and all applications will get updated (must have an Internet Connection). User cans also deselect individual applications and choose to only update specific ones if they like -

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Once the applications are selected, click “Install” and they will get updated. A progress meter will show the status of the update for each application -

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As apps finish updating, they will disappear from the update screen until they are all complete -

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At this point, all Windows 8 applications are updated and the Store tile on the Start screen should no longer display a number (unless more updates have become active) -

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System Administrators can also control what Windows 8 Store applications can be installed and provide limited control over updates using AppLocker.

AppLocker is a feature in Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, and Windows 7 that advances the functionality of the Software Restriction Policies feature. AppLocker contains new capabilities and extensions that reduce administrative overhead and help administrators control how users can access and use files, such as executable files, scripts, Windows Installer files, and DLLs. By using AppLocker, you can:

  • Define rules based on file attributes that persist across application updates, such as the publisher name (derived from the digital signature), product name, file name, and file version. You can also create rules based on the file path and hash.
  • Assign a rule to a security group or an individual user.
  • Create exceptions to rules. For example, you can create a rule that allows all users to run all Windows binaries except the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).
  • Use audit-only mode to deploy the policy and understand its impact before enforcing it.
  • Create rules on a staging server, test them, export them to your production environment, and then import them into a Group Policy Object.
  • Simplify creating and managing AppLocker rules by using Windows PowerShell cmdlets for AppLocker.
  • Manage .mst and .appx files with AppLocker. (Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 only)

For more detailed information on AppLocker including a Step-by-Step Guide for Administrator, see the follow – TechNet Guide to AppLocker

 

Cheers!