Sideloading Apps on Windows 10 Devices

October 29, 2015 | 3 min Read

Like many other operating system vendors, Microsoft provides a store from which users can install apps from. Stores such as the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, and the Windows Store make it very easy for users to discover and install content. Like traditional marketplaces, app stores provide a number of advantages to both consumers and producers, but also like traditional marketplaces, the rules and regulations can sometimes be hindrance.

If you wish to deploy an app to a small number of beta users for testing, or simply share it amongst your friends, signing, packaging and submitting the app for review is excessive. In this article we will demonstrate how you can sideload your app on both Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Desktop.

Visual Studio 2015 provides wizard for deploying Windows 10 Apps. Right-click on the project, and select Store -> Create App Packages. On the first page of the wizard you can indicate that this particular build is not intended for the Windows Store. The wizard will step you through the entire process, and allow you to choose which architectures you wish to deploy to. Once completed, an appxbundle and certificate will be created.

Sideloading on Windows 10 Mobile

In order to sideload the appxbundle on a Windows 10 Mobile device, you first need to transfer the file to the device. Windows will recognize the device as a drive when the phone is attached, so this can be done with a simple drag & drop.

Once the bundle is on the device, the device must be configured to use developer features. This setting can be activated in Settings -> For Developers. Select either Sideload apps or Developer mode.

Now use the File Explorer to navigate to the location where you copied the appxbundle. Tap on the file, and the device will prompt you to install it. Once installed (it may take a few seconds) it will appear in the list of apps and can be launched like any other Windows 10 app.

Sideloading on Windows 10 Desktop

In order to install a developer app on Windows 10 Desktop, the host must first be configured to allow sideloading (Settings -> Update & security -> For Developers).

Also, on Windows 10 Desktop, the developer certificate must be added to the certificate store. From the Windows Explorer, right-click on the certificate and choose Install Certificate. Install the certificate on the local machine and place it in the Trusted Root Certification Authorities.

Once the certificate is added, the bundle can be installed by using PowerShell. Start PowerShell and issue the Add-AppxPackage command.

C:\Add-AppxPackage .\MyApp.appxbundle

The app will appear in the start menu with all other apps and can also be pinned as a live tile.

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Ian Bull

Ian Bull

Ian is an Eclipse committer and EclipseSource Distinguished Engineer with a passion for developer productivity.

He leads the J2V8 project and has served on several …