Microsoft has come under fire for making changes to the Windows 10 Pro edition of its platform that seem aimed at inducing businesses to spend more by licencing the Windows 10 Enterprise edition instead.
Windows 10 Pro is the edition aimed at small to mid-size business users. It is designed to provide a familiar and productive experience, while delivering enterprise-grade flexibility and security that enables a business to grow efficiently, according to Microsoft.
Along with Windows 10 Enterprise, which is only available to volume licensees, this edition offers administration options not supported in the consumer edition of the operating system.
However, following a string of recent updates to Windows 10, some of these enterprise-grade features have now been stripped out of the Windows 10 Pro edition.
The chief gripe is that Microsoft has retroactively turned off a feature that enabled IT administrators to restrict access to the Windows Store for their networks. This was to prevent end users from downloading and running unapproved apps such as games.
Microsoft has even created a Knowledge Base article for anyone trying to troubleshoot the problem.
Under the title "Can't disable Windows Store in Windows 10 Pro through Group Policy", Microsoft explains: "This behaviour is by design. In Windows 10 version 1511, these policies are applicable to users of the Enterprise and Education editions only." For the record, it's KB3135657.
Respected Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley has obtained a statement from Microsoft that reads: "Microsoft is focused on helping enterprises manage their environment while giving people choice in the apps and devices they use to be productive across work and life.
"Windows 10 Enterprise is our offering that provides IT pros with the most granular control over company devices. Windows 10 Pro offers a subset of those capabilities and is recommended for small and mid-size businesses looking for some management controls, but not the full suite necessary for IT pros at larger enterprises.
"The ability to block access to the Windows Store is typically for organisations who want more control over corporate-owned devices. This fits into the value of Windows 10 Enterprise."
In other words, if organisations want to continue using key features that they bought Windows 10 Pro licenses for, they will have to upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise or live with the fact that users can access the Windows Store.
The move should also stand as a warning to users that Microsoft can just as easily remove key features from Windows 10 as add them using the Windows Update service.
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