Windows 10 Creators Update: block Win32 program installation

Last Updated on September 21, 2018 by Larious

If you run the latest Windows 10 Insider Build, you may have spotted a new option already that lets you block the installation of Win32 programs on the system.

While there is no guarantee that the feature will land in the Creators Update, as Microsoft may pull it again before the final version is released, it appears as if users get the option to block any win32 program installation on the device.

The feature is not turned on by default of course, and it is unclear why Microsoft added it to the operating system.

Administrators could use it to lock down the system. One side-effect of not being able to install Win32 applications is that it will also keep malware that is distributed through installers in check.

The core difference to Windows RT Cloud is that users may run any win32 program that is already installed on the system, and also any software that does not require installation.

Windows 10 Creators Update: block Win32 program installation

via Vitor Mikaelson

The new feature offers two options when it comes to the installation of legacy Windows programs on a system running the latest version of Windows 10.

The first blocks the installation of any win32 programs. Users who try to install programs anyway get the following message:

You can only install apps from Windows Store. Limiting installations to apps from the Store helps to keep your PC safe and reliable.

A link points to the relevant preference under Apps & features in the settings.

The second option displays the same message, but adds ab “install anyway” button to the prompt. This means that users may install the legacy program after all, as it is not blocked completely.

Do the following to configure the feature:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, and select Settings from the Start menu.
  2. Navigate to System > Apps & features.
  3. Select “choose where apps can be installed from”, and pick one of the available options:
    1. Allow apps from anywhere.
    2. Prefer apps from the Store but allow apps from anywhere (prompt with install anyway).
    3. Allow apps from the Store only.

I don’t see many scenarios where users may want to limit the installation of programs on their devices.

While you may block your parents, kids, or anyone else from installing win32 apps after adding all they require to the system, it is not a method that will block all malware or unreliable software from running on the device. The main reason for that is that it will only block installations, but nothing else.

The locked down setting won’t prevent program updates either. So, if a win32 program is already installed, any updates for it will install fine as well.

The German site Deskmodder discovered the Registry values for the feature:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type regedit.exe and hit the Enter-key.
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorer
  3. Locate AicEnabled.
  4. Value of Anywhere means all installations allowed.
  5. Value of PreferStore displays warning but allows bypass.
  6. Value of StoreOnly blocks all future win32 installations.

Now You: What is your take on the feature? Good to prevent malware infections and installation of unreliable software? Useless? Or something in between.

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