Gatekeeper-like feature for Windows 10 only allows apps to be installed from the Microsoft Store

Apple Mac fans may find this sounds familiar.

David bisson
David Bisson

Gatekeeper-like feature for Windows 10 allows app installations only from Microsoft Store

A new feature available for Windows 10 behaves like Apple’s Gatekeeper by blocking app installations that occur outside the Microsoft Store.

The option, which is currently available only in Windows Insider Preview Build 15042, allows an administrator to configure a PC’s app installation preferences. Its settings enable users to install apps from anywhere or only from Microsoft Store.

The feature can also tell the system to “prefer” apps from the Store but to accept apps from anywhere, which means users will be warned about installing outside applications.

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Windows 10 setting

Sound familiar?

It should. After all, it mimics Apple’s Gatekeeper feature in most of its functionality. Just check out this description of the Mac-based security measure:

“For apps that are downloaded from places other than the Mac App Store, developers can get a unique Developer ID from Apple and use it to digitally sign their apps. The Developer ID allows Gatekeeper to block apps created by malware developers and verify that apps haven’t been tampered with since they were signed. If an app was developed by an unknown developer—one with no Developer ID—or tampered with, Gatekeeper can block the app from being installed.”

Os x security

That’s not to say Gatekeeper is perfect. But it has proven effective in helping to block malware like Adwind, the remote access trojan which has infected 1,500 companies in over 100 countries.

Adwind mac

Shaun Nichols of The Register feels this similarity with Mac’s Gatekeeper means the new Windows feature could help protect users against rogue applications. As he explains an article:

“The setting would have an obvious benefit to security by steering users away from potentially backdoored copies of popular applications. By limiting the installation of software to the Windows Store, Redmond could help to ensure that only properly screened apps are installed and eliminate the possibility of users being duped into running malware packages.”

The feature has yet to be confirmed for the general public. Let’s hope it debuts soon. Sure, individual users might not configure the option to allow apps only from the Microsoft Store. But it could help enterprises prevent their employees from installing apps from suspicious websites.

It’s a small security tool in the grand scheme of things. But every measure helps.

David Bisson is an infosec news junkie and security journalist. He works as Contributing Editor for Graham Cluley Security News and Associate Editor for Tripwire's "The State of Security" blog.

4 comments on “Gatekeeper-like feature for Windows 10 only allows apps to be installed from the Microsoft Store”

  1. Etaoin Shrdlu

    Apple are currently refusing to allow an app for Gab on their store, citing an unending and shifting series of objections and requirements.

    1. David · in reply to Etaoin Shrdlu

      All you have to do is go into settings and change one thing. Apple, Windows, it is the same. It is set up to only install under the store but can be change in the settings.

      1. Etaoin Shrdlu · in reply to David

        Not about permission to install- it is about Apple refusing to allow the app on their store. Yes, Gab could offer it elsewhere, to those who know how to change the default, but this is Apple acting as gatekeeper based on liberal politics.

  2. Lee

    well how about a guy like me?.. or many others as well. I write apps out of eclipse.. JAVA apps. and I have no intention of harming anyone. and I write some pretty handy (but very specific) tools. no can do, huh? so these conglomerates throw bricks at the honest guy. guess that's why I only run linux nowadays. at least I can package the thing, send it out to my buddies and they now have my tool. what about sourceforge or github I wonder?

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