Windows 8 Online Store Opening in Late February
Windows 8 Online Store Opening in Late February
By Kurt Mackie
Microsoft unveiled details about its forthcoming online store for selling
Windows 8 Metro-style applications yesterday, along with an approximate
Windows 8 beta release date.
The beta of Windows 8 will arrive sometime in late Feb. 2012, according
to a Microsoft-edited video of a presentation by Antoine
Leblond, vice president of Windows Web Services. He spoke yesterday in San
Francisco about the new Windows Store developments. Windows Store will
open in late February, alongside the Windows 8 beta release. However,
Windows Store will only serve up free applications during the beta test
Microsoft wants to entice developers to add their Windows 8 Metro-style
applications to the store via a contest offering. App submissions for the contest
are due by Jan. 8 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.
What's in Store for Developers?
Microsoft laid out the costs for developers using Windows Store.
Individual developers will have to pay a $49 annual registration fee; it's
$99 annually for companies, according to Microsoft's Windows Store announcement. Microsoft will take a 30
percent cut off app revenues sold through Windows Store. However, when
$25,000 in revenue is reached for an app, Microsoft will discount its take
to 20 percent. The payout schedule to developers isn't being publicized at
this time, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.
Windows Store comes with market-friendly perks for developers, according
to Microsoft. Searching for apps will be optimized, both through a direct
Store link in Windows 8 and index optimization for search engines. Direct
links to apps in the Windows Store also will be supported. Some
flexibility is available for developers in how they want to sell their
apps. For instance, a trial version of a game could allow purchases
through in-app upgrades, unlocking all levels of the game. Alternatively,
game levels could be sold on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Developers must get their applications screened first before they can be
accepted into Windows Store. The application has to meet Microsoft's app
certification policies. Some of the screening is technical and enabled
through the App Certification Kit and Software Development Kit that comes
with the Windows 8 developer preview (download page here). Other screening is more cultural. For
instance, the sex and violence is limited in Windows Store apps as no
"adult" content is permitted. The app also has to "provide value to the
customer." A full list of the app certification requirements can be found
at this page.
Microsoft claims that Windows Store will connect developers to 231 markets. However, participation by developers in
Windows Store is right now limited to this language and country list, which was far less
than 231 markets at press time.
Microsoft's announcement suggested that Windows 8 developers will be able
to reap revenues from Windows 7 upgrades. Microsoft has sold 500 million
Windows 7 licenses to date, so that would seem to be a potentially large
market to tap. However, as noted by Matt Rosoff in a recent Business Insider article, most Windows 8
purchases typically will come from new machine purchases, not from
upgrades. That's just traditionally been the way Microsoft has sold new
An IDC report confirmed that view. It predicts little
activity in the Windows 7 to Windows 8 upgrade cycle in 2012. The big test
for Microsoft will be executing on its ARM-based Windows 8 strategy to
compete with Apple in the tablet market, according to IDC. Apple, of
course, already has an online Apple
Store for developers to sell their software. Like the Windows Store,
Apple puts restrictions on developer apps sold through its online store.
Windows 8 Metro-style apps are largely based on HTML 5. Consequently,
there may be greater opportunity for developers to port their apps between
the two operating system platforms and between the two store platforms.
Windows Store will be wholly separate from the Windows Phone Marketplace
in terms of requirements and costs. Windows Phone apps could be recompiled
to run as Windows 8 Metro-style apps without too much difficulty, in
theory, especially if they are based on HTML 5 markup. Some have wondered
if customers who bought a Windows Phone app would have to buy it again for
Windows 8 devices if they wanted it on that platform. In response to a
question along those lines, Microsoft's spokesperson said that the company
had "nothing to share at this time."
Windows Store and App Management
Microsoft announced that it will support enterprise apps as well as
consumer apps in the store. However, any enterprise apps found in Windows
Store will be Metro style. A Microsoft spokesperson explained that "the
Windows Store will be for Metro-style apps only, so regular desktop-style
apps will not be available through the store - they'll continue to be sold
the same as they are today."
"Desktop apps" in Windows 8 are the classic Windows 7-like applications
that run in chromed windows with traditional menu systems that will be
supported on x86 machines. Microsoft officials claimed during the September Build conference that
apps that ran on Windows 7 will likely run on Windows 8, at least on x86
In any case, IT pros will have some control over how Windows Store
apps get used in their organizations. IT pros will be able to limit
Windows Store catalogs seen by employees, for instance. Group Policy can
be used to permit the installation of Metro-style app installations by
Microsoft also suggested that IT pros will be able to deploy the same
Windows Store apps to both managed and unmanaged devices, which may prove
useful when apps need to be used both at work and at home. It's not clear
from Microsoft's description exactly how Windows Store would facilitate
such dual installations. Metro-Style apps can be managed through the use
of PowerShell cmdlets, according to Microsoft's announcement,
but no details were provided.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.