Microsoft is testing a new version of Windows 11 that makes it easier than ever to download free apps.
Instead of forcing users into the Microsoft Store to complete app downloads, the latest beta release of Windows 11 allows users to install free apps from search results. If you type ‘WhatsApp’ into Windows search, for example, a card for the app should appear in the search results. That card contains an ‘install’ button, allowing you to install the app with a single click.
The new functionality will only work with free apps and games. Those requiring payment confirmation will still need to go through the Microsoft Store.
The new feature will be available to Windows Insiders in Preview Build 25330, which is being released in both the Canary and Dev channels. Assuming the tests are successful, it will likely migrate into the full version of Windows 11 later this year.
Windows 11 apps
Microsoft has expanded the number of ways in which users can install Windows apps in recent years. Those users comfortable with working from a Command Prompt can use the Windows package manager to install apps with a simple text command, for example. This means you don’t have to scour the web or the Microsoft Store to download your favorite apps and there’s none of the hassle of clicking through multiple screens with pre-ticked boxes trying to bundle other apps on to your PC.
Microsoft has, however, largely failed in its mission to make the Microsoft Store the one-stop shop for all Windows app downloads. Many popular Windows apps are still not listed in the Microsoft Store, despite Microsoft making concessions to developers and reducing its cut on sales. Windows S Mode, in which Windows is locked down and only able to install apps from the Microsoft Store, remains a niche offering.
Preview Build 25330
There are a couple of other features of note in Windows 11 Preview Build 25330. Microsoft is now making its Snipping Tool the default app that will appear when users press the print screen key to take a screenshot. Users can dip into their Windows 11 settings and assign a different default app if they wish.
Microsoft has also revamped the interface for rating apps and games in the Microsoft Store, which the company claims will make it “faster, more reliable” and better aligned with Windows 11 styling.