updated 08:35 pm EST, Tue December 6, 2011
Windows 8 store to let devs skip Microsoft systems
Microsoft in a presentation providing further details on the Windows Store in Windows 8 positioned it as the antithesis of Apple's own App Store. Web Services VP Antoine Leblond made clear that while the Windows Store would have in-app purchase and subscription systems, these would be strictly optional. Apps like an instance of The Daily Telegraph could use their own back-end systems, something which Leblond was keen to note could show on a Windows 8 tablet but not an Apple device.
"It's not an app you could have on the iPad," he said, referring to Apple's insistence that any in-app purchases on iOS go through iTunes and give up 30 percent of revenues.
Microsoft was hoping to strike a balance between Apple and Google, he said. Apple had quality control but a strict and at times unclear approval process. Google, meanwhile, had a very loose approval process that let malware through as well as cloned or scam apps.
Developers would also theoretically get more money back. Microsoft would take an Apple-style 30 percent cut from apps through their first $25,000 in sales either for the app or in-app sales, but this would drop to under 20 percent afterwards. Minimum prices would be higher at $1.49. Developers can pay $49 to develop for the store as individuals or $99 across whole companies.
Leblond omitted disadvantages to Microsoft's own store, such as the requirement to use its store for regular Metro apps as well as Google's much lower five percent cut of Web Store apps.
Some details were recaps. The Windows Store will support trial apps and will transition over the app's state if the user unlocks it as a paid version. Enterprise customers won't have to go through the store, and the store will be localized in every language Windows uses, although only the top 40 countries will get directly localized pricing.
Confirming some rumors, he revealed that the Windows Store would launch side-by-side with a beta of Windows 8 in late February. It would only be limited to free apps at first, and app submissions in the early phase would be invitation-only, according to Leblond.
In pitching the Windows Store to developers, Leblond tried to convey a size for the Windows market that ultimately showed how less dependent the world was on PCs. He touted that 500 million Windows 7 PCs made Windows' exposure "just so much bigger," but estimated that there were 152 million iOS devices, 247 million Android devices, and 30 million Macs. The difference left just 71 million devices' difference and suggested anyone who wrote for both Android and iOS could cover nearly as many systems.
Windows 7 is moreover meaningless for market share, since the Windows Store will only take Windows 8 apps and later. In practice, it could see Android and iOS still having much larger addressable bases even years into Windows 8's life.