updated 12:25 pm EDT, Fri September 16, 2011
Microsoft still wants app cut but open to Apple
Microsoft in the wake of the Windows 8 unveiling has clarified its stances on apps. Despite claims that Windows Store apps would be free, a check of the developer terms mentioned in the Windows Weekly podcast has reportedly shown that the policy only applies to conventional Windows apps. Those written to take advantage of Windows 8's Metro interface will require giving Microsoft the industry standard 30 percent cut of sales.
The strategy, if correct, suggests that Microsoft would profit from being the default choice for Windows apps, much as Apple hopes for the Mac App Store. It could simultaneously fork Windows 8 app development where those who want to be in the Windows Store are pushed to either use an older, desktop-oriented interface to get full profits or to lose 30 percent of their revenue to publish a modern and tablet-native version. Microsoft won't require that apps publish through its store but will give much more exposure to apps that go through its official channel.
During the Financial Analyst Meeting this week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer did say there wouldn't be any objections to key competitors writing apps. His company would "welcome" a Metro-native Amazon Kindle app and even Apple's iTunes rearchitected for the new layout. The remarks weren't a confirmation and did come with skepticism, particularly given Apple's frequent insistence on having more control over its own interface that might make it post a classic app instead.
"I don’t know what we’d see there, but we’d certainly welcome those [apps]," Ballmer said. "And, because of compatibility [with non-Metro], there's certainly a path forward for everybody."
Apple may have to at least consider a new look. ARM tablets don't have to run Metro apps; without backwards compatibility for legacy apps, though, iTunes wouldn't port directly without at least a recompile to support ARM as well. A traditional-looking app might discourage Windows tablet owners who could go to the touch-native app from a competitor.