Another bad Windows 8 decision reversed

Microsoft just announced it's backing off a Windows 8 policy that made no sense: limiting Windows accounts to five devices

About six weeks ago, while rummaging through the dreck of the leaked Windows 8.1 Build 9471, I mentioned a surprising limitation on Windows accounts. In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, you are limited to five devices running Windows Store apps on a single Windows account. You could buy a Metro app, install and run it on five (Win8/8.1/RT/8.1RT) devices simultaneously, but if you tried to install it on a sixth device using the same Microsoft account, you had to officially uninstall the app on one of the existing devices before Windows Store would let you install it on a new device.

Back when Windows 8 first hit the stands, that wasn't a big deal for most consumers -- how many families do you know with five Metro-capable Windows devices? -- but some developers got left in the lurch. It's hard to demo (and sell) Metro apps when you're limited to five devices. Admins with multiple Windows 8/RT devices had to jump through hoops to get their computers to work: If you had six cloned Windows8/RT devices running Metro apps of any description, you had to use at least two different Microsoft accounts. Worse, the limitation applied to all Windows Store apps -- including free apps. It didn't make much sense.

Apple's analogous limitation is for 10 devices.

Sanity has prevailed, I'm happy to say, and Microsoft has announced that effective Oct. 9, Metro apps can be installed on up to 81 devices under the same Microsoft account. Developers now get control over their apps, up to the 81-device limit:

On one hand, the ability to run on more devices may mean more revenue from the apps that are ad-based. On the other hand, if limiting the service that can be accessed simultaneously on devices is critical for the business model of the app, we provide a set of APIs to build a service-side verification to set that limit.

The change is good news for everybody: customers, developers, and admins. It's also a forward-looking change as Microsoft finally consolidates Windows Metro apps and Windows Phone apps in a single store.

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