Windows 8 works like other mobile app platforms, where an online account, in this case your Microsoft account, is used to make app and game purchases. But what if you have a shared PC or device and would like to use the same paid apps and games between multiple accounts? Can you do this, or do you need to buy the app multiple times, one for each account?
You can share apps between accounts. But there’s a trick: You need to change the Windows Store account to the account from which you’ve purchased apps. This makes the most sense in a family environment, where you’d like your spouse or kids to have access to the same app collection. And you can configure it securely so that your kids will be prompted for the account password whenever a purchase attempt is made.
First, configure your own account normally, using the Microsoft account you wish to use for app and game purchases.
Then, configure one or more secondary accounts for your children and/or spouse. These accounts can be local accounts or Microsoft accounts, it doesn’t matter.
Sign-in to a secondary account and launch Windows Store. Then, choose Settings (WINKEY + I) and then Your account. In the full-screen interface that launches, click the Change user button (or, if it’s a local account, the Sign in button). Here, you can configure a Microsoft account that will be used only for purchases. Use the Microsoft account you prefer (usually the one you sign in with.)
If the sign-on account is for a child, you should also consider setting the option “Always ask for your password when buying an app” to Yes. That way, your kids can’t make purchases without your permission, and they’ll need to ask you to enter that password to approve those purchases.
A couple of notes about this process.
First, the Microsoft Store account is not connected to the Xbox apps (Xbox Music, Video, and Games) or any of the other apps that come pre-installed with Windows 8. So unless you change the sign-in on those apps, they will continue to use the sign-in account (or, for a local account, will await a separate sign-in).
Second, while using the same account in Windows Store across multiple sign-in accounts on a PC provides access to all of the apps and games you’ve purchased, none are installed automatically. And if you purchase and install an app or game in one account, you will still need to install it in the other accounts separately: They are literally installed in different places on the disk. (You will also need to update them separately, once in each account, going forward.)
To do choose and installed apps and games, visit Windows Store, then choose Your apps from the app bar (WINKEY + Z). This interface provides a list of all purchased and downloaded apps and games, with the most recent titles listed first.