Prevent non-administrator users from installing Windows app packages via Windows 10 MDM

This week a short new blog post about a new introduced Windows 10 MDM policy setting, in Windows 10, version 2004, to address new default behavior. That policy setting is related to the installation of Windows app packages. More specifically, that policy setting can be used to prevent non-administrator users from initiating the installation of (signed) Windows app packages. Starting with Windows 10, version 2004, every user – administrator and non-administrator – can initiate the installation of (signed) Windows app packages. On previous versions of Windows 10 that would require the administrator to at least enable the ability to sideload apps (part of the developer settings), for users to be able to initiate the installation of (signed) Windows app packages. This policy setting can be used to return to a situation similar to before, as it enables the administrator to prevent users from initiating the installation of (signed) Windows app packages. That can be the preferred situation for specific groups of users. In this post I’ll quickly go through the setting and requirements, followed by the configuration steps. I’ll end this post by having a look at the end-user experience.

Overview

Let’s start with a quick overview of this specific policy setting. This is an ADMX-backed setting that is available via the AppxPackageManager.admx and this policy setting is used to manage the ability of users to initiate the installation of (signed) Windows app packages. The friendly name of this policy setting is Prevent non-admin users from installing packaged Windows apps and this policy setting is only available in the Windows 10 Business, Enterprise and Education editions.

The policy setting is available in the ApplicationManagement area in the Policy CSP. That’s not a new area, but starting with Windows 10, version 2004, it contains this specific new policy setting. In the table below is an overview of the policy setting and keep in mind that the complete node of this policy setting starts with ./Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/ApplicationManagement/.

PolicyDescription
BlockNonAdminUserInstallThis policy setting manages the ability of non-administrator users to install (signed) Windows app packages. When enabled (value: 1), non-administrator users will be unable to initiate the installation of (signed) Windows app packages. Administrator users will still be able to initiate the installation of (signed) Windows app packages in Administrator-context. When disabled (value: 0), or not configured, all users will be able to initiate the installation of (signed) Windows app packages.

Note: This policy does not configure the ability of users to install Windows app packages via the Microsoft Store.

Configuration

When knowing the available policy setting and the possible values, it’s time to take a look at the steps for configuring that specific policy. The nine steps below walk through the configuration of a new custom configuration profile that includes the required OMA-URI and its value. The wizard style of configuring makes sure that the configuration profile will be assigned to the selected users and/or devices.

  1. Open the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center portal navigate to Devices Windows > Configuration profiles to open the Windows | Configuration profiles blade
  2. On the Windows | Configuration profiles blade, click Create profile to open the Create a profile page
  3. On the Create a profile page, provide the following information and click Create to open the Custom wizard
  • Platform: Windows 10 and later
  • Profile type: Custom
  1. On the Basics page, provide the following information (the Platform and Profile type are greyed out and configured based on the provided information on the previous page) and click Next
  • Name: Provide a valid name
  • Description: (Optional) Provide a valid description
  • Platform: Windows 10 and later
  • Profile type: Custom
  1. On the Configuration settings page, click Add to open the Add Row page. On the Add Row page, provide the following information and click Add (and click Next back on the Configuration settings page)
  • Name: Provide a valid name
  • Description: (Optional) Provide a valid description
  • OMA-URI: ./Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/ApplicationManagement/BlockNonAdminUserInstall
  • Data type: Select Integer
  • Value: 1
  1. On the Scope tags page, configure the applicable scopes and click Next
  2. On the Assignments page, configure the assignment and click Next
  3. On the Applicability rules page, configure the applicability rules (think about the existence of this setting for only the Business, Enterprise and Education edition and the existence of this setting for only the 2004 version and later) and click Next
  4. On the Review + create page, verify the configuration and click Create

Note: At some point in time this configuration will probably become available in the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center portal without the requirement of creating a custom device configuration profile with a custom OMA-URI.

End-user experience

Let’s end this post by having a look at the end-user experience. The basic end-user experience when using this policy setting, is the same for every user. When initiating the installation of a (signed) Windows app package by simply double-clicking the file, every user – non-administrator and administrator – will receive the same experience. For an administrator to still be able to install a (signed) Windows app package, the installation should be initiated in an administrator-context (for example: using PowerShell that was started by using Run as Administrator).

To show the end-user experience, I’ve used two different Windows app packages. Below on the left is an example of a trusted app in MSIX-format and below on the right is an example of an offline trusted Microsoft Store app in APPX-format. Both examples simply used to show the behavior of the policy setting. MSIX Hero is actually a really nice and simple tool for managing and troubleshooting MSIX packages and Word Mobile is just a simple APPX package.

Reminder: This policy does not configure the ability of users to install Windows app packages via the Microsoft Store.

More information

For more information about the policy setting to prevent non-administrator from initiating the installation of Windows app packages, refer to the ApplicationManagement policies in the Policy CSP documentation.