Windows 10: private app store for XLStyles Tool

UPDATE [10/12/19]: see this post for an important update regarding private store distribution improvements.


I’ve received questions from a small number of users that have Windows App store disabled by their IT departments.  Microsoft fully supports private store app distribution for approved by IT apps. If you work in one of these locked down organizations, please encourage your IT to try these steps: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-store/distribute-apps-from-your-private-store. Windows Apps store is by far much more secure way to distribute and seamlessly update modern apps. I’m posting this because someone just now chimed in and said that his IT department locked the app store distribution, but would allow him to run an exe. This is such backwards thinking. App store apps at the time of publishing are checked by Microsoft staff, scanned for viruses and are digitally signed when they pass pretty stringent security, regulatory and quality criteria. We need to collectively do some IT educating here – if they lock down the app store access, they definitely should invest in the setup of the private store for critical to business users app like the XLStyles Tool. Now, I don’t have the environment to test this out, so if you went through the steps in your org, please share your experience.  You are getting XLStyles Tool for free, so please spend  couple of minutes for the benefit of the user community to share your experience and important tips if you successfully setup you private store.

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51 Responses to Windows 10: private app store for XLStyles Tool

  1. Carl Brown says:

    Hi, I’ve searched for XLStyles tool in the MS business store and it is not available. So, even after enabling the private store we are not able to add your (awesome) application to our private store. Do you have plans to release XLStyles tool to the business store (opposed to the consumer store).

  2. John Panicci says:

    Hi,
    I was wondering if you could compile the tool for Offline install. I have created an account to log into MS Business Store, and you app is available but only online mode. We cannot at this time setup a private store. apparently Apps can be made to be online or offline. Is this a possibility, or can you somehow get the Appxpackage from you offline?

  3. Will WAlker says:

    Do you know of any workarounds to use the have the Windows 7 version work on windows 10 machine? My app store is broken (“Windows Store won’t install apps with error 0x80248014” which nobody on the internet knows how to fix).

    Tried to use the old version in compatibility mode but that did not work. Is there any way to get the app/program so it works as it used to?

    I used to use this almost every day to clean out excel files and now I am left with horrible files that have thousands of hidden styles, old named ranges, etc! Would be willing to buy a working version that did not have to go through the app store…

    Thank you and please help!!
    Will

    • XLGeek says:

      I’m deliberately going with app store distribution for Win 8+ operating systems. It is a lot more secure for the users and easier to keep the app up to date. Have you contacted Microsoft Support yet? This issue should be known to them and they should be able to help you fast. They have tools like WSReset.exe

  4. T. Huisman says:

    Hi XLGeek, we really love your app over here, but we are unfortunately also not allowed to use the windows store (at all) nor a private app store. That’s what you get when working for a big multinational.

    I really hope you will eventually make a normal .exe available for windows 10. And yes I would like to pay for it if that helps. We are getting a lot of files from corporate that already have more than 35000 styles in them because of SAP. So whenever we want to copy a sheet from one file to the other we now need to use the (very slow >10 minutes) VBA solution.

    Just wanted to let you know that there are more people than you think with this issue.

  5. XLDeb says:

    Does the Windows 10 version automatically clean and save without opening the file?

  6. Simon says:

    In our environment access to the Windows App store is disabled. We don’t have a private store and it has been decided that it is too much overhead to configure and support a private store for a single app. Is there any other method to access this?

  7. Joel G. says:

    Because I am in an appstore lockdown org, is it possible for you to make the tool available for download outside of the appstore? I’ve used the tool in my previous company and know it does wonders for old/clogged up files.

  8. JP says:

    Having no end of trouble with this. Can’t install via the Windows Store as it does not recognise the office PC. Can’t register the office PC as one of my devices as its not running Windows 10. Can’t use the Website as IT have blocked it. Can’t convince IT to unblock the website because the app is an alternative option. Can’t give up on this awesome tool because IT can’t afford to give us the updated version of Office which would resolve the issue.

    I miss the days where you simply downloaded what you needed and it worked.

  9. ExcelDude says:

    Hey man,

    I love your tool and have used it for years. I have found no way to make this work because of the block to the windows store on my computer, and IT department would not even look into it to make it available on a private store (which I also don’t think we even have). I see in your above comment that this was a deliberate decision, and I just hope you reconsider. I’ve tried everything to get this to run/work with no luck and keep getting the “NT 6.2.9200 is not supported” messaged – which is also weird given I used this on this computer before.

    Appreciate any help and if you might be able to help get this running again for me… Excel is sad without it.

    Thanks,

  10. samswed says:

    I’m using the tool from Microsoft Store. The before/after stats are significantly different once I hit ‘process’. However, no matter how I try to then open/save the files following the processing the file sizes do not change. What am I doing wrong?

    • XLGeek says:

      This typically means that the file size bloat is caused not by styles and named ranges, but by something else. File save after processing will for sure reduce the file size (i.e., style file part will have fewer entries), but may be not by as much as you expect. Please double-check exact before and after size in bytes.

  11. James says:

    Hi mate, just wondering if it would be possible to get a desktop non-store version of this tool for Windows 8/10? Thanks.

  12. Kevin Collings says:

    How do you sideload this program for Windows 10

  13. Mat says:

    Hi – I would like to leverage a power of your tool in our company, however we use only the private store. While looking for application available to be added to the private store, i wasn’t able to find the XLStyles application. According to the Microsoft, only the “online licensed applications” can be rolled out to the private store.

    Could you please check the licensing option for your application and eventually change it to be available to private store users?

    • XLGeek says:

      That is because it is not a UWP, but just a store app. I got zero help when I asked for assistance with the UWP upgrade. I’m almost done with .Net Core 3.0 self-contained executable port now that .Net Core 3.0 went GA and supports XCopy type deployment coupled with less aggressive OS blocking of the 3rd party .exe files. Would that work for your environment? I plan to publish SHA512 hash to ensure single self-contained file integrity and hope to get to MSIX wrapper at some point as well. Do you prefer MSIX or side-load option? If I will include telemetry gathering code would that be ok for your org? I can see usage and crash reports for the store apps, but WinForms will be a black box for me. Right now WinForms app issues have to be reported by the users on this blog. MSIX upgrades are supposed to be seamless.

      • Mat says:

        Hey,

        Just got the app in the business store for online licensing and will test the offline one.
        For Now, works like a Charm!

        Thanks a lot!

        Mat

      • XLGeek says:

        Thanks for feedback! Please post your results. There are a ton of questions form other admins that run private stores.

  14. John Panicci says:

    Hi , Having an MSIX would be great, I could use SCCM to deploy.. I was hoping with Release of .net 3.0 core that you’d be able to complete it. Let me know when you need someone to test

    • XLGeek says:

      It was GA for only 2 weeks :). Working on it.

      • John Panicci says:

        thanks so much. If you have a donation site, I’d gladly contribute

      • XLGeek says:

        Pushed beta out and it’s been stuck at the store in the “Certification” phase for about 12 hours now. That is a bad sign. Used to be quicker for Win 8.0 and 8.1. I need full trust to be able to access the files for read and write. They may block it. I’m cranking on UWP port in parallel which also should come with MSIX. There is a setting to allow enterprise private store distribution for UWP apps which should work for you.

    • XLGeek says:

      Got a notification just now that XLStyles Tool UWP v3.0.1.0 (uses .msix package) for Windows 10 64-bit got published in the store. I made sure that “Allow organization-managed (offline) licensing and distribution for organizations” option is checked. Please give it a spin and let me and others on this blog know if it worked for you. Thank you in advance.

      • John Panicci says:

        so awesome, I wrote you on the other post. Works great!!!!!

      • XLGeek says:

        Thank you for the feedback! Try out WinForms version if you can. Microsoft Rewards includes store gift card for Bing searches. Takes 1600 or about a week to get up to $1, so even WinForms app basically remains free with minimal effort.

  15. Phil Lochner says:

    Unfortunately we’re in a position as well where we cannot access the MS Store on our business computers, nor will our IT department setup and use a Private store for the sole purpose of downloading this one tool, which we do use. Is it possible that I can get this tool on one computer that does have a MS Store account (like a personal laptop) and then copy it somehow and redistribute it to my users?

    Shame because my company would gladly pay for a $50 license or whatever to just have it in our possession as a stand alone installer, instead of having to screw around with the MS Store or a private store.

    • XLGeek says:

      Thank you for the feedback. I’m looking into what can be done here. Distribution needs to be secure. I’m going to look into side-loading options this weekend. Are there any resources/options that you looked at for MSIX side-loading that would be acceptable to you?

      • Phil Lochner says:

        To be honest, a simple good old fashioned click here to download a ZIP file with an installer in it is going to be the most direct way for my group to get the product. Our IT department, while helpful, simply isn’t going to put the resources into setting up that Private store or any side loading distribution method just so a small group of our accountants can download a single (but massively helpful) tool. I can’t imagine a non profit with outsourced IT would even have the tech chops or budget to do so either.

        Plus, the LTSB version of Windows 10 doesn’t even come with the MS store so there’s literally no app to click on to install MS Store apps even if you wanted to.

        I would guess the people who can’t get it from the MS Store are not going to be your average home Excel user, they’re going to be business users in the same boat as me and my company. I have absolutely no problem paying for a license either, that’s how helpful the product has been to us.

        Maybe you have the Free version on the MS Store, but then a $5 (or more!) version behind a paywall for non MS Store users that are also probably business users?

      • XLGeek says:

        Thank you for providing the details. This is exactly what I need. I have huge preference for the app store: it is secure, I get telemetry and can fix bugs without talking to users, updates are frictionless and users get best uninterrupted experience. ZIP or xcopy deployment is not a good option given current state of the industry. I have no knowledge of what is happening with these apps. I have users in Korea self-hosting extremely old versions that could cause crashes and have no way to update them. I’m looking into all possible options: e.g., publish SHA512 hash, so that IT can verify file integrity, but that won’t help with telemetry and proactive updates. Does your org support MSIX sideloading? There may be a way to have sane and secure option for locked down orgs with IT approved sideloading. I can’t believe that they would let you run unsigned exe (insanely insecure) and not have store (very secure) available.

  16. Phil Lochner says:

    When we have an app like yours (the older, non-MS store version that is!), the IT department does take a look at it first even though it’s unsigned. If it was a skeevy app, our firewalls and next-gen AV would intercept and isolate whatever it was trying to do.

    Also, not trying to be argumentative, but I don’t know of any under 100 employee businesses that have an active directory domain and have a private version of a MS store. While my business actually disables access to the MS Store via a GPO and script, even if we didn’t disable it, users would have to create a personal Microsoft account, sign into it, make sure Windows 10 doesn’t start using it for login, and then find out there is quite literally nothing on the MS Store (heh, other than your app) that our business has ever needed to use.

    All this being said, I’m a bit biased because I use the MS Store at home for personal stuff and it’s a pain in the ass, a wasteland of terrible apps with purposely misdirected names (search for “VLC” sometime and let me know if you find the “real” version!). I wouldn’t be surprised if your own app finds a pile of closely named hanger ons that don’t do anything except clutter up the store and people’s computers. It’s like what Apple’s app store was the first month it came out, except the MS Store has been around since Windows 8 and shows little sign of improving.

    Your method of sideloading and publishing it on the MS store makes a ton of sense and in a perfect world we’d all be using it. But I just don’t know of any smaller organization that actually does that.

    • XLGeek says:

      Contemporary AV products in the best case scenario are capable of trapping less than 50% of malicious software. Let’s check with your IT team if they will allow you to use side-loaded MSIX. I’ll figure out how to build one for sideloading hopefully this weekend if they are OK with it.

  17. NilsP says:

    Hi,
    dear XLGeek, is there any news about the sideload of offline installation!?
    We would really appreciate!
    Thank you for a short reply.
    Kr
    Nils

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