Writing Metro Style Apps for Windows 8 requires that you have a valid Developer License for Windows 8. The Developer License is free, regardless of the edition of Visual Studio you are using. The license works with Windows 8 Metro style apps only, you do not need it to write ASP.NET sites or WinForms programs. A developer license is not the same as a Windows Store account. A Windows Store account is what you use to sell and manage your Metro style apps.
Microsoft Windows Phone developers are accustomed to the notion of a developer license; however, other developers like ASP.NET or native Windows devs might not.
Why you need a developer license for Metro style apps
App consumers will visit the Windows Store to purchase and install Metro style apps, and they cannot run apps without having obtained them through the Windows 8 store first. This is for a variety of important reasons, including, but not limited to:
- Security: Allowing unauthorized apps to run creates a vulnerability on that machine.
- Support: The Microsoft support teams cannot provide support for unauthorized apps.
- Quality: Apps go through a review process to get into the store and apps obtained through other means .
Having a current developer license allows you to Debug and run Metro style apps on the machine that has the license installed in one of two ways:
1. Use the developer tools.
You can debug Metro style apps with Visual Studio 2012 and/or the Windows Simulator.
2. Side Loading
You can side load. This is installing Metro style apps directly to a device without going through the Windows Store. Side loading is meant for testing purposes only, it is not a way to broadly distribute your app. (Note: there are some differences when working with Enterprise Metro or Desktop apps)
Obtain the Developer License for Windows 8
The first time you create a new Metro Style App project template by using the File->New Project dialog from Visual Studio 11 you will be prompted to agree to and obtain a Developer License, as the image below shows:
Upon agreement to the terms, Visual Studio will ask that you connect using your Windows Live ID. Windows Live Ids are linked to developer accounts so you must associate a Windows Live ID with the developer license, and later, this is what you will use as your login to the Windows Store.
Once you have logged in with your Live ID, you will receive confirmation that your license is valid for a period of time. Occasionally, you may be asked to renew your Developer License. Just follow the prompts and sign in to renew.
Alternative ways to manage your developer license
You can also use PowerShell to install and manage developer licenses. Just open a PowerShell command window with administrative privileges (important!) and use the following common commands:
C:\PS> Get-WindowsDeveloperLicense (Gets or renews the license)
C:\PS> Unregister-WindowsDeveloperLicense (Unregisters the license. You should Unregister licenses after you are done testing.)
C:\PS> Show-WindowsDeveloperLicenseRegistration (Shows license information)
You can use the Visual Studio 2012 Store menu’s “Obtain Developer License” command.
You need a developer license to test apps out on Windows 8 devices, and the license is quite easy to obtain and manage.
If you get an error during the licensing process, make sure you have an internet connection.
Desktop apps are not restricted the way that Metro style apps are (for side loading purposes. See http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsstore/archive/2012/04/25/deploying-metro-style-apps-to-businesses.aspx for related info).