Microsoft today announced it is increasing the app roaming limit on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 from five to 81 on October 9. This means you’ll be able to install the same app from the Windows Store on more than just a handful of devices associated with a single Microsoft account.
Microsoft says this change is being implemented in direct response to users complaining about the five-app maximum:
Since we launched Windows 8, we heard growing feedback from many developers and from our most enthusiastic customers that the limit of 5 was not enough for their needs. Developers asked for more flexibility in implementing their business models, and customers wanted to run those apps on the variety of tablets, laptops and desktops they owned.
Yet at 81 devices (which is clearly a play on the Windows 8.1 name), the limit may seem a bit redundant. Nevertheless, Microsoft insists it’s there to protect the app builders’ investment and help “prevent abuse.”
For free apps that don’t have any revenue streams, this change will have no effect. For apps that have ads, the new policy may end up being beneficial to their developers, as users may access them on more devices.
Yet for developers who use a business model that depends on limiting the service that can be accessed simultaneously on devices, Microsoft has a solution. The company provides a set of APIs to build a service-side verification to set a limit below 81.
If you’re in this boat, you’ll want to check out the following links: Using receipts to verify purchases and Guidance on using the App Specific Hardware ID (ASHWID) to implement per-device app logic. You’ll also have to disclose the constraint you set to Windows Store customers and “set expectations appropriately,” Microsoft notes.
In its announcement post, Microsoft noted the word “friction” when describing Windows 8 users installing apps and that this upcoming increase would reduce it. Clearly the company and third-party developers aren’t seeing the app installation numbers they would want, and just before Windows 8.1′s release has been picked as the time to act.
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