With Windows 8/RT, Microsoft allows each customer to install apps on up to 5 PCs that are associated with their Microsoft account. But this limit—curiously called "app roaming"—is getting a significant bump in Windows 8.1. Indeed, it can hardly be called a limit at all.
"Since we launched Windows 8, we heard growing feedback from many developers and from our most enthusiastic customers that the limit of 5 was not enough for their needs," the Windows Apps Team writes in a new post to the Windows App Builder Blog. (Where, you know, everyone is going to find out about this important change.) "Developers asked for more flexibility in implementing their business models, and customers wanted to run those apps on the variety of tablets, laptops and desktops they owned."
Microsoft had previously said it would be raising this limit but didn't say at the time—the Build conference in June—what the new limit would be. Frankly, I was expecting 10, which is perfectly reasonable. (And to be clear, you can remove PCs from your list of connected devices anytime you want, without limit already, so it's not like it's hard managing this feature.) But they didn't do with 10. Or even 20.
Instead, with Windows 8.1, Microsoft is raising the app roaming limit from 5 PCs to ... 81. Get it? Windows 8.1. 81.
And actually, this change is not starting with Windows 8.1, it's starting ... in less than two weeks!
"Starting on October 9, Windows Store apps can be installed on up to 81 devices associated with a single Microsoft account," the post explains. "This will apply to all apps in the Store, for both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1."
If you're curious how this change will impact developers—and do try to stop rubbing your greedy little hands together in satisfaction, you selfish end user, you—the official line is that by letting users install paid and free apps on a basically unlimited number of PCs/devices, developers can now get their ad-supported apps and games in front of more people more of the time. And app developers have programmatic access to controls that will prevent the same app/game from being used on the same account on whatever number of machines simultaneously. This will help prevent abuse.
I am loving this change.
You can manage your connected PCs from the Store app: Settings, Your Account
But as a subscriber to Xbox Music Pass, which is the other device-limited scheme that I run into regularly on my own Windows 8.x/RT devices, I wish Microsoft would make some changes there too. With Xbox Music Pass, you can only use the service on four devices. And you can only remove two devices from your list of connected devices every 30 days.
I run into both limits more than I wish to admit. And while I realize that the new free-wheeling open model offered by Windows 8.x apps is not going to work with Xbox Music Pass, surely there is a happy middle ground. For example, I'd be happy to pay more and let the service work with the same Microsoft account on 8 devices, with 4 removals per month. Or just bump the device limits by one. Something.
Anyway. This app install/use limit change should be celebrated.