How can I let my child use an app that I bought from the Windows Store?


If you buy an app from the Windows Store, you can make it available to other users on the same Windows PC. This is useful if you, say, buy an app for your child to use. Here's how you do it. (This is all explained on the Windows Store blog, but I've converted it into a step-by-step and updated it for Windows 8.1.)

First, sign on as yourself and install the app under your own account.

Next, sign on as the child (or whatever other account you want to share the app with), and launch the Store from that second account.

In the Store app, go to the top of the screen and hit Account, then My account.

From the My account page, use the Change User button to sign out as the child account and sign in as yourself.

Once signed in as yourself, you can reinstall the app into the child account. You can do this the hard way, by searching for the app, or the easy way by hitting Account at the top of the screen, and then choosing My Apps. Tap the app you want to reinstall, then hit the Reinstall button. (Since the app is already installed, all this does is increment the reference count on the app.)

When finished, sign out of the Store from the child account.

In Windows 8, each purchased app could be used on up to five PCs, regardless of how many times it was installed on each PC, so adding an app to a second account did not eat into your device quota. In Windows 8.1, the limit was bumped to 81 PCs, which means that for most people, the device limit will not be problem.

Comments (38)
  1. Entegy says:

    Unfortunately, this doesn't work if your child is using a Microsoft account as well.

    The model Microsoft has chosen doesn't work. It should have followed the Xbox content model where the content installed is available to all users of the machine so long as the machine has one account that's authorized for the content.

    [Really? It works for me. My account and my daughter's account are both Microsoft accounts, and I have Family Safety enabled. -Raymond]
  2. Brian_EE says:

    Pre-emptive Snarky Comment: "Computers are so hard to use".

    Even though I'm sure Raymond doesn't know… Seriously, why isn't there an option to install for All Users like older versions of Windows?

  3. Entegy says:

    @Brian_EE The current model allows non-admins to install Store apps for themselves.

    I mean, I'm glad there's a way to do it, but the tradeoff is the other accounts then can't be using their own Microsoft account, which loses things like full Family Safety or OneDrive access in File Explorer. When the Store was announced, I was really, really hoping for the Xbox model of content licencing.

    [Something else must be going on, because it does work even if everybody is using a Microsoft account. At least it works for me. -Raymond]
  4. Vitor Canova says:

    @Entegy Actually it works for me even with both using MS account.

    The only problem is that the app (in the case Asphalt 8) couldn't distinguish mine profile from my daughter's profile so everything was messed up.

  5. John says:

    @Entegy

    The model you describe is the Xbox 360 Model. That is no longer valid with Xbox One which uses a model similar to the Microsoft Store described above. Albeit with no ability to license a game to a second user IIRC, it was planned, but the FUD machine regarding the DRM scheme on Xbox One killed it.

    I for one liked the ability to transfer all of my Windows 8.1 apps from my laptop to my new Nokia i just picked up for Christmas, it was seamless!

  6. Entegy says:

    @John

    Wait, really? Other users on a One can't use content from other accounts?

  7. Jason Warren says:

    Remember the time when windows application installation programs offered the check box to "Install for all users of this computer"?

    [Remember the time when app installers were given administrative privileges? -Raymond]
  8. John says:

    @Entegy

    Correct. Also you lose any games that you downloaded via the Games with Gold Program if you allow your Gold Account to expire (however they will reactivate once you pay for Gold Again).

    All of that is neither here nor there. While both the Windows Store and Xbox products come from Microsoft it should be understood that each division is a separate entity that may implement rights management in different ways.

    Thanks Raymond for the write up, I have it on good authority that a copy of your book "The Old New Thing" will be under my Christmas Tree come tomorrow. Now I just need to figure out what your conference schedule looks like so I can get my copy signed by the one and only :).

  9. Entegy says:

    I was not implying Microsoft was one company with one mind. I was stating that there was a much better content management solution that should have been the inspiration for how the Store works. I'm dismayed to learn that the One is worse than the 360 in this regard.

  10. Entegy says:

    And to all those telling me that does work and still lets you sign into Windows with your own Microsoft account: Whoops, I'm an idiot. I found the switch user button. Still gonna grumble about the 360 method being better for everyone. Grumble grumble…

  11. Bob says:

    @Entegy

    I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding what people are saying here, but if you buy a game on the Xbox One it's available for everyone on that Xbox One, regardless of what account they are signed in as.  I bought Minecraft, but my kids happily play it while signed in to their accounts without me being home or signed in.  The difference between the One and the 360 relates to Gold.  Previously Gold (which used to gate access to things like Netflix and provides a few free games every month) was only triggered on the account that has it.  So my kids couldn't play online or watch netflix without logging onto my account.  Now, on the One, any account on that machine can use the benefits of Gold whether they have it or not, as long as one account does.  I think that account also needs to flag that xbox as its main xbox or something but I'm not sure, I only have one xbox.  As a person with a 360 and a One, and kids with their own live accounts, I'm far happier with the One's policy than the 360's.

  12. Joshua says:

    I'll start caring about apps when I don't have to use weird undocumented hacks to make  Modern UI work at all. Locating the backing store for UI scale in the registry is obviously a bad idea, but so was dishonoring the manually set DPI in favor of the auto detected one (which turned out to be wrong). Have: 181. Declared: 192. Detected: 96.

    [Not sure what this has to do with today's topic, but thanks for sharing. -Raymond]
  13. Ian Boyd says:

    That all seems extraordinarily reasonable.

    Users should not be able to install apps for all users. And it seems reasonable that I would install "my" app in another user's profile.

  14. "Next, sign on as the child…"

    It demands being on the other side of the airtight hatchway. The child (or another adult) does not share its user account password. It is a good thing too.

    "[Really? It works for me. My account and my daughter's account are both Microsoft accounts, and I have Family Safety enabled. -Raymond]"

    Yes, that's a sign that it probably works nowhere else. Microsoft has the notorious reputation for being a bubble that has separated itself from the rest of the world, blind and deaf to what's going on outside. And when I say "Microsoft", I really mean its people.

    "[Remember the time when app installers were given administrative privileges? -Raymond]"

    Fondly.

  15. Darran Rowe says:

    @Fleet Command:

    The problem with "It demands being on the other side of the airtight hatchway" is that it doesn't necessarily mean that the one user with the app that you want to share needs to know the credentials of another user.

    "Hey, I have this app that you said you wanted. Sign into your user account so I can share it with you"

    "OK, wait a sec, there logged in"

    But well, I always get a funny feeling that you are really cynical or just anti-Microsoft in general.

  16. @Darran Rowe: It requires two people being on the same device at the same time, which is extremely inconvenient in this time and age; by definition, if not practically. Windows must have implemented something akin to "Install for all users of this computer". The snarky comment about administrative privileges is no excuse. Windows Servicing Stack has it anyway.

    As for "anti-Microsoft", it is totally your faulty imagination. I am one of the three major to contributors to "Microsoft Security Essentials" article on Wikipedia. But faulty software engineering decisions are brandless. If I see one, I point it out; not prejudice.

  17. Michael Burgwin says:

    @Fleet Command "I am one of the three major to contributors to "Microsoft Security Essentials" article on Wikipedia."

    Amazing! Can I get your autograph?

  18. Sure. You can get one from my Wikipedia user page.

    try {

     this.SetStatus.IsSarcasm := this.Previous.GetStatus.IsSarcasm or false

    } except {

     Disclaim;

     throw EExceptionAssertionFailure;

    }

  19. EduardoS says:

    How about making users life easier and, if someone browse the store for na app that's already installed, it just offer the option to reinstall without all those secret steps?

    ["When people ask for security holes as features." That would be information disclosure. -Raymond]
  20. EduardoS says:

    How dangerous is to someone know wich programs are installed on the computer he is using is another topic (for home computers I don't think this matter at all, for enterprise or comercial terminals you have a point) but a "let other users see this program" checkbox would solve the question (and I am not asking for something that would force other users to have that program installed, just something that allows them to see it if they request it), and for users sake, make it checked by default on "home" editions of Windows and unchecked for "professional" editions.

  21. Zork says:

    This whole discussion is quite pointless. It's not like anyone's actually using apps from Windows Store.

  22. Joshua says:

    ["When people ask for security holes as features." That would be information disclosure. -Raymond]

    Good. Glad somebody cares enough for a change.

  23. "["When people ask for security holes as features." That would be information disclosure. -Raymond]"

    What is asked is actually a "hack", an inelegant and rather unmaintainable solution the nevertheless solves the local problem. While I understand that deploying hacks to all customer is wrong, I maintain that the developer must look into the source of the problem. In case of that article, is the deficiency of the security through obscurity model. In case of this article, EduardoS didn't ask for security hole; the feature he is requesting is, for the most part, already implemented as part of Windows 8.1. Only there is no advertisement (a la Windows Installer advertisement) unless the licensee sign into Windows Store with his own account. (The only exception is Windows 8.1 Enterprise edition that has joined a domain.)

    [But how do you solve the information disclosure problem? A non-administrative user can see what apps another user has installed. You could, say, go to the Store and look at embarrassing apps, and look for one that says "This app is already installed by another user." A "Make this app available to other users upon request" checkbox would probably need to default unchecked even on home systems. And it would also have to get out of the 100 point hole. (Since the current model would still be needed if you wanted to make the app available to some users but not others.) -Raymond]
  24. Alvin Ashcraft says:

    Hopefully, it becomes this simple to installed paid apps for your child on Windows Phone when Windows 10 comes to both platforms. Right now you have to jump through some hoops, including buying your child a Store gift card. Here's the process on MS Answers:

    answers.microsoft.com/…/3b76cb63-0a6a-413d-8312-06992d0fbe90

  25. Tim says:

    It's interesting to note how different platforms have solved this problem. On one of the other platforms, you can link a limited number of accounts together so that they share purchases. There's no unauthorized information disclosure because you've explicitly linked the accounts together.

    On the other other platform, it's impossible to share purchases between accounts, but you can sign in to your own account and set up a profile on the same device with limited access to your email, calendar, etc., for a child to use.

  26. xpclient says:

    What? All this just because an admin account can't install an app for all users? Few are going to bother with these steps, the feature even if it exists is going to go unused at which point it will be removed because of low use, screwing the select few who used it too.

  27. 12BitSlab says:

    Mrs. 12BitSlab was kind enough to give me a Kindle Fire HDX 7 for Christmas.  99% of my usage is reading.  Microsoft may want to look at how the HDX operates relative to granting access to others of installed apps.  It appears to be very easy.  It doesn't really matter to me since I don't share my devices with anyone else.

  28. EduardoS says:

    Fleet Command, could you share the link to that blog post?

    Also, do you have any suggestion on how to solve this problem?

  29. "[But how do you solve the information disclosure problem? A non-administrative user can see what apps another user has installed. … -Raymond]"

    1. False. A non-administrative user can already do that in 8.1. I even seem to remember to have written a blog post to that effect.

    2. Do you realize that I am actually *against* this course of action? I called it "inelegant and rather unmaintainable solution" and "deploying hacks to all customers is wrong". (So, I am afraid you just stepping into {Disclaim; throw EExceptionAssertionFailure;} loop.)

  30. ^ Actually, I checked and it seems a non-admin user can no longer do that in "Windows 8.1 Update 1". (The actual update must have come around January 2014 because that's when I last left the post in my draft bin.) But… I don't for a second imagine Raymond is the standard user and her daughter the admin. So, we are already in the other side of the airtight hatchway. As an admin, look into Program FilesWindowsApps. (Admins have only read-only permission on it but that shouldn't be a problem.)

  31. Danny says:

    Quote: "If you buy an app from the Windows Store…" I stopped right there because poor Windows Store that is trying to sell me the app is going to get a slap from me and a search on Play Store where there is bound to be a free app that does the same. Sorry Ray, stick with Windows on PC, on mobile Micro$oft is the poor relative to Google and Apple. The train is lost and the past years showed only a very far slow donkey trying to catch the Google/Apple train. Slap, slap and more slap.

  32. Scarlet Manuka says:

    @Fleet Command: If I recall correctly, Raymond has stated in the past that he does not (routinely) run as an administrative user. So we're looking at the scenario where one standard user buys an app and wants to make it available to one or more additional standard users.

  33. Katie says:

    Thanks for this – I had to search for this information when setting up my kids' new tablet. The source I found didn't make it obvious that you could log out of the store on their accounts after installing the apps. I just left things locked down so even if they make it into the store they'll need my password to install anything. I'll log them out completely today.

    It would be great to be able to install the app on their accounts from mine, since I'm set up as a parent, but I fully understand that Family Safety is it's own thing and that sort of integration wouldn't be easy to set up.

    I think the biggest problem is that this procedure is not very discoverable. I doubt many people figure it out without searching for information on it, and at least for me all the top results were non-Microsoft sites. But I also can't picture a good place to add a prompt for users that may want to know how to do this. It could make sense to explain it in the Family Safety page somewhere, but if the Store team changes things the documentation could end up out of date.

  34. @Scarlet Manuka: Okay, I am game. But let's stop beating around the bush and address this user confidentiality myth:

    Zeroth law of security says if a user has physical access, it is only a matter of time before he circumvent all security measures and get what he wants. If I am Standard User A, I WILL find out what apps Standard User B is running on my PC very easily unless some sort of disk encryption is in place. (NTFS permissions won't stop me.) In addition, I do not subscribe to the undue weight of this confidentiality point of view at all. 99% of times, users are not ashamed of letting other users know that they are running a Standard app. Why must Metro-style apps be an exception? What is wrong with running Blender, Inkscape, Firefox, Notepad++, Epic Battle Fantasy 4, Paint.NET, Comodo Internet Security, Fiddler, Speccy or Dolphin?

    So, my position is: "Install to all users" checkbox, checked by default. Or "Keep this app confidential", unchecked by default. And: Similar app provisioning features available in Enterprise edition in all editions (minus Domain-related features.)

  35. DaveN says:

    That's one of those problems that nags at me once in a while, but I never bothered to figure out.  Thanks!

  36. EduardoS says:

    Windows used to have a "share with" option for folders that non-admin users could use, does Metro have such a thing? If so (and if it doesn't it should have) why not just a "share with"-like feature for apps?

    @Fleet Command, for home users there is a feture wich can be used to know what other are using called: "look over his/her shoulders".

  37. EduardoS says:

    BTW, Parental Control isn't kind of a security issue?

  38. Katie says:

    @EduardoS

    If a user has permission to set themselves up as a parent account to another account on the system then they are already on the other side of the airtight hatchway.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content