Behold, the Windows Store Cometh

Microsoft will begin accepting submissions for the Windows Store, its Windows 8 app store, when it unveils its Windows 8 public beta in late February.

It also invited applications from devs to submit applications using the Metro-style touch user interface for inclusion in the Windows Store.

The store is itself a full-screen Metro-style app built with HTML 5 and JavaScript that will give devs access to the 500 million Windows users worldwide, Microsoft said.

Devs will get up to 80 percent of the revenue from each app purchased.

“Windows 8 is a huge potential platform for developers,” Wes Miller, a research analyst at Directions on Microsoft, told TechNewsWorld.

However, it’s likely that the big app development companies will begin working on Windows 8 apps first, while “a lot of the smaller developers may take a wait-and-see attitude and see how well the platform does before they invest very heavily in it,” Miller added.

Microsoft spokesperson Lacretia Taylor declined to comment for this story.

Windows Shopping

Apps in the Windows Store will run on Windows 8-based PCs, desktops, laptops and tablets in 231 markets worldwide.

The store will be the sole source for Metro-style apps, and it will have a side-loading feature for enterprises so IT can manage and deliver apps and updates.

The landing page will push compelling apps to the top. Apps will be organized in categories, such as the latest, the most popular, and fast-rising apps. Think of it as a Top of the Pops chart for Windows apps.

The Windows Store catalog will be indexed by search engines and will also support direct linking to app Web pages. Built-in search supports directed discovery, and category filters will help fine-tune searches.

Devs will be able to promote apps from their websites with a promotion feature built into Internet Explorer 10. However, Microsoft made no mention of what can be done with IE 8 or 9.

Microsoft will offer market-specific catalogs for customers in 231 markets worldwide and another catalog for all other markets. Devs can choose which catalog their apps are listed in.

The Windows Store will include support for more than 100 languages. It will carry both free and paid apps.

More Help for Devs

Developers will be able to offer apps as a trial without writing any extra code, and they can set the trial period. This will eliminate the need for “lite” versions of their apps, Microsoft said.

App devs can test their app through the Windows App Certification Kit and troubleshoot any technical issues before submitting them to the Windows Store.

Criteria for testing and certifying apps for the Windows Store are displayed here.

“This is a curated site, the authors will be validated, and the software will go through an approval process similar to Apple’s but with better tracking and less opportunity for rejection for content,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

“It will specifically be tested to ensure malware isn’t built into the applications, and this will be used as a competitive advantage against Google’s offerings,” Enderle added.

Money Talks

Devs will get 70 percent of the revenue from apps sold. This will go up to 80 percent when revenues exceed US$25,000. Devs can use transaction engines other than Microsoft’s for making in-app sales, without having to pay any fees.

“Giving ISVs a break beyond the first $25,000 of sales is a huge plus,” Al Hilwa, a research director at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.

Taking Care of the Business

Enterprises can choose to limit access to the Windows Store catalog by their employees. Alternatively, they can allow access but restrict certain apps.

Further, enterprises can deploy Metro-style apps directly to PCs without going through the Windows Store infrastructure.

The Windows 8 beta lets IT administrators use group policy to permit Metro-style app installations as long as the apps are signed by trusted publishers and the machines are joined to the domain.

IT can deploy apps to either managed or unmanaged devices.

“I like the ability for enterprises to side load apps as needed, and Microsoft’s promised support for this in its management tools,” IDC’s Hilwa said.

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