Is your organization ready for Windows 8.1? Part 4, Automatic App Updates

In this series, I’m asking the questions to determine as an admin if your organization is ready to go to Windows 8.1. Today, I’m looking at the ability to automatically download and install updates for Windows 8 interface apps. One of the more prominent new features of Windows 8.1 for organizations.

Automatic App Updates are a security feature, so issues with apps with vulnerabilities may be resolved fast and automatically throughout your networking infrastructure.

On the other hand, this puts an awful amount of trust and faith in the developers of these apps. When a developer decides to completely rewrite the code or change the lay-out, your colleagues are automatically confronted with these changes. When a developer cuts a feature, your colleagues will also automatically be confronted with this change. Deb Shinder recently wrote an article on updating Google Maps on Android, where she describes this exact experience.

With the choice to enable Automatic App Updates by default, Microsoft has made a statement. It clearly shows that security is a top priority and it shows it has trust in the developer ecosystem. However, you may not.

 

Managing Automatic App Updates

In that case, you can preemptively disable Automatic App Updates in Windows 8.1. I’ll show you how in this blogpost.

Managing Automatic App Updates through Group Policy

You can use Group Policy to disable automatic downloading and installation of App Updates of Windows 8 Interface Apps for all colleagues on targeted Windows 8.1 PCs.

Windows 8.1 Group Policy Editor with the Turn off Automatic Download and Install of updates setting (click for original screenshot)

This Group Policy setting is labeled Turn off Automatic Download and Install of updates and is located in Computer Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ Windows Components \ Store.

When you enable this setting, the automatic download and installation of app updates is turned off. When you disable this setting, the automatic download and installation of app updates is enabled. When you don’t configure the setting through Group Policy (or registry), the setting from the Windows Store Interface governs Automatic App Updates.

Disable Automatic App Updates through the registry

Alternatively you can disable automatic downloading and installation of App Updates of Windows 8 Interface Apps through the registry. This method, too, will disable Automatic App Updates for all users on targeted Windows 8.1 PCs.

You can achieve a registry change in several ways:

  • Through System Center Configuration Manager Compliance Settings
  • Through Group Policy Preferences
  • Through 3rd party client management solutions
  • Manually through .reg files
  • Manually in RegEdit.exe or RegEdt32.exe

You will need to create a new DWORD value with the name AutoDownload and value 2 in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsStore. Value 4 on the other hand overrides the Automatic App Updates settings from the Windows Store Interface and resembles disabling the Turn off Automatic Download and Install of updates Group Policy setting above.

When you delete a possibly existing AutoDownload value in the Registry, you reset the Automatic App Update settings to being enabled but possibly being overwritten through the Windows Store.

Disable Automatic App Updates in the Store Interface

As mentioned above, when you don’t centrally manage Automatic App Update settings, your colleagues can change these settings for themselves through the built-in Windows Store app.

Instruct them to open the Store app from their Start Screen. When the app is loaded (their PCs will need Internet connections for this) let them press Win + C or let them swipe in from the right to opens the Charms bar. Let them select Settings.

Settings for the Microsoft Store App (original-sized screenshot)

Now, from the Settings pane, let them click or touch App updates.

When the settings are not managed by Group Policy or registry, your colleagues will be able to change their Automatic App Update settings here. Instruct them to change the lever from Yes  to No under Automatically update my apps. Afterwards, let them press the Back button in the top left corner of the app window to return to the Store App. Make them close the Store App by either pulling its top edge to the bottom of your screen or by typing Alt + F4.

 

Concluding

When you enable Automatic App Update settings you trust Microsoft and its app developers to treat you right. When you’re not ready to place this trust in them, this blogpost explains how to manage the Automatic App Update settings both centrally through Group Policy and the registry as locally by your colleagues through the Windows Store Interface.

Related blogposts

Is your organization ready for Windows 8.1? Part 1: Overview
Is your organization ready for Windows 8.1? Part 2: The Best Hardware for the Job
Is your organization ready for Windows 8.1? Part 3: The Start Button and Boot to Desktop

Further reading

Google messed up Google Navigation but you can fix it
Turn Off Automatic App Updates in Windows 8.1
Turn off or Disable Automatic App Updates in Windows 8.1
How automatic app updates will work in Windows 8.1
Turn Off Automatic App Updates in Windows 8.1

Series Navigation

<< Is your organization ready for Windows 8.1? Part 3, Return of the Start Button and Boot to DesktopIs your organization ready for Windows 8.1? Part 5, Managing SkyDrive >>

leave your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.