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Install a Windows 8 Modern UI app without the Windows Store

We want to program for Windows 8 for Surface and have problems signing the software before installing for testing and giving a demo of final versions. It's wasting our time and energy.

Is it Microsoft's strategy that they only allow signed software on Surface?

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Which version of the Surface are we talking about exactly? Applications on the Windows RT Surface can only be installed through the Windows Store. Applications on the Surface Pro running Windows 8 Professional can install any application you want from any source. –  Ramhound Jan 2 '13 at 11:55
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marked as duplicate by Karan, RedGrittyBrick, Hennes, Dave Rook, Siim K Jan 2 '13 at 22:12

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Sideloading of Modern UI apps to Windows 8/Windows RT is possible. There are several restrictions/pre-requisites though.

You'll need either

  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows RT

Windows 8 Pro

With Windows 8 Pro, you can sideload Modern apps, albeit only if you have a Windows 8 developer license. The license is free, but you'll need to use PowerShell(or alternatively, install Visual Studio - which would be installed if you're actually developing an app anyway) to acquire the license.

Once PowerShell is launched as an Administrator, enter the below to acquire the license

Show-WindowsDeveloperLicenseRegistration 

Click on Agree & login with your Microsoft Account to get the license. Once acquired, enter the below command to sideload the app

Add-AppxPackage C:\example.appx

replacing example.appx with name of you package.

Windows 8 Pro/Enterprise/Windows RT

For Windows 8 Pro without a developer license or for Windows RT/Windows 8 Enterprise, you'll need to acquire a sideloading activation key. The activation key can be purchased from Microsoft. Once you've acquired the activation key, you'll need to register it by opening the command prompt and type the following:

slmgr /ipk <activation-key>

replacing <activation-key> with the activation key.

Alternatively, if you have Windows 8 Enterprise which is joined to an Active Directory domain, the domain needs to have Allow all trusted applications to install Group Policy setting enabled. Here's how you can enable the Group Policy:

  • Open the Group Policy editor (gpedit.msc).
  • Under Local Computer Policy, click on Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, and then App Package Deployment.
  • Double-click the Allow all trusted apps to install setting.
  • In the Allow all trusted apps to install window, click Enabled and then click OK.

Once the key has been activated or the Group Policy has been added, you can sideload by typing:

Add-AppxPackage C:\example.appx
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