We’re no strangers to App Stores. Headed by Apple, companies are adding their own stores to their platforms and Microsoft is following suit.
As always, we at Windows Guides take a topic (not well-known, difficult to understand/get facts, commonly explained wrongly) and do our best to explain it to you. Here’s what I’ve gathered thus far by answering the questions I have on the Windows Store.
Please note: We’ll continue to update this guide. Price references are in USD.
The Windows Store
Put simply, the Windows Store is a place to purchase Windows applications and download them directly to your PC. Both Microsoft and the application developers will test their apps with your version of Windows. There’s more…
Who/what Countries Can Use the Windows Store?
The store will be available (currently) in 231 different countries/territories and be available in over 100 languages. Here’s the list.
We’ll have a number of market-specific catalogs, tailored for those customers, and a “rest of world” (ROW) catalog for all other markets. Developers can choose the catalogs in which their app is listed, and we will continue to increase the number of market-specific catalogs and payment providers over time as we evolve the Store service.
When Will the Windows Store be Available?
I’ve been there: reading about something new, wanting to try it, but realizing the “something” I’ve read about doesn’t exist yet (how was I to know you can’t actually book a Moon trip yet??)
So the first question is: When will the Windows Store be available? Microsoft assure us the Windows Store will be available with the Windows 8 Beta, set for official release in February 2012 (subscribe for updates or view Windows 8 news and progress.)
Note: Only free apps will be available during the Beta.
What type of PC/Version of Windows Do I Need to Use the Windows Store?
You will need any internet-connected PC (i.e. desktop, laptop, tablet) running Windows 8.
How Will I Find Applications?
Microsoft indicate they’ll be using search engines to index store apps (using Bing as an example) as well as the Windows Store application. Put simply, you won’t need to leave your internet browser to find new applications! If you’re using Internet Explorer 10, there’s a button you can click when you browse websites with store applications for sale.
What Advantages Does the Windows Store Hold Over other Methods of Purchase?
Most people get their applications either by a merchant download online or from a local store. We all know venturing to the store for software is an act performed best in the 20th Century and we all know downloads are quick, easy, and less wasteful of paper, plastic, fuel etc.—if that’s your thing. Currently, getting your applications online either directly from the vendor or through a third-party is almost as easy as a centralized Windows Store; however, these transactions bears risk if you use your daily—usually with a scary-high spending limit—credit card. You also may have to install proprietary software just to download the application!
A central, platform specific store, takes away much risk associated with having your credit card on so many companies’ databases. If Microsoft do a sound job of protecting our data, we’ve mitigated and huge privacy and PI risk.
Finally, if you get a new PC or have to format your current PC, gathering apps again can be a serious pain (even with FileHippo.) With the Windows Store, your purchases will remain on your account for future PC installs.
What About Common App Store Disadvantages? Will Apps take Forever to Get Approved for Updates?
The advantages above look nice but let’s address common “app store” disadvantages:
- “No refunds”: Microsoft don’t indicate they’ll offer refunds but free time-based or functionality-based trials can be used by developers
- Migrating data over from a ‘lite’ to a ‘full’ app: As you’ll be able to use trial versions of apps, you wont have to transfer any data when you buy the full version
- Long approval process for app fixes/buggy apps: Here are Microsoft’s thoughts on a long, poorly communicated application approval process:
“We want to increase predictability and eliminate any capriciousness in app certification. We do this by providing every developer with the technical certification assessments—the App Certification Kit —as part of the SDK. We also provide app acceptance guidance, in plain language, in our app certification policies. The App Certification Kit and the SDK are included when you download the Windows 8 Developer Preview. We’ll give feedback to developers whose apps are rejected, so they can address the issues quickly and resubmit the app for publication.” (App certification policies)
How Much Will Applications Cost?
Each application will differ in price with a base price of $1.49. Each developer will determine their price individually. I expect the following price structure:
- $1.49-$5: Puzzle Games, non-3D games, single-purpose apps (i.e. JPG to PNG Image Converter Pro Plus Premium Extended Edition)
- $5-$15: PC maintenance apps, security applications, many 3D games
- $15+: Professional software, specialist software (i.e. remote access support platforms)
There will, of course, be free applications after the Beta ends but most of you knew that already (if not for the screenshot at the top of this post.) Also, as we mentioned earlier, Metro style apps can support free trials with in-app purchasing. If the developer supports it, you won’t have to purchase an app without the ability to get a refund if it doesn’t work as expected/is plain rubbish.
Microsoft state they’ll take 30% of application sales (from developers) up to the first $25k in revenue and 20% thereafter.
Will Applications be More Expensive Now Microsoft is Taking a 20-30% cut?
Running a store that caters to (almost) the entire Windows 8 PC-using world, is no small operation but, really, it’s also a great way to make massive revenues. Microsoft stuck with the industry standard of 30% and, while some may say that’s pretty high, I really think that, in the digital age, customers and developers will suck that up without much complaint.
- First in the delivery chain is the developer: Now, they can sell applications to Windows users with an application available with every compatible PC. Thus, they don’t need to use printing companies, distributors, b&m stores, or even have to run their own website and online store any more.
- Second, Microsoft, who take a 30% cut from the sale.
- Third, you, the customers will benefit from reasonable prices on applications and the wide range of choice that (Microsoft anticipate) will be available.
Of course, credit card companies will charge Microsoft usage fees, taxes, and everything else that comes with consumer trade. The fact remains: centralized online stores are a great way to give any software developer with $49/year the opportunity to sell their work and to get exposure to much of the Windows computing world. There are 1.25 billion Windows users now (Jan 2012); consumer Windows 7 adoption rates show we’re not content with older (and arguably crappier) versions of Windows as over 500 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold—many of them upgrades.
There is, of course, the one-time fee of a Windows 8 license to get to the Windows Store. So, Microsoft, please don’t charge us $100+ for an upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8; we want these features but it’s an expensive jump given many of us are on Windows 7 and love it!
Will the Windows Store Revolutionize Computing?
No. However, the Windows Store isn’t designed to do that; the store will simply makes computing even easier for us, the customers. The Windows Store ties in concepts and technologies that we’ve used, in some form, for years in an easy-to-use, readily accessible way. At Windows Guides, that sounds pretty good to us. We like easy computing!
That’s all for now. What questions do you have about the Windows Store?