Microsoft has demoed its Windows Store for Windows 8 applications to journalists and developers at an event in San Francisco. Selected developers have been invited to submit early apps which will be available in the beta store, a part of the Window 8 beta due February. A screen shot on the Microsoft blog shows app mock-ups from Evernote, Cut the Rope, eBay, and Disney.
The commercial release of Windows 8 is expected in autumn 2012, but a developer preview is available now. In order to stimulate interest amongst the developer community, Microsoft is launching a First Apps contest with submissions due by 8 January.
Like Apple, Microsoft will take a 30 percent cut on app sales, which can be either free or have a minimum price of $1.49. But if any app generates more than $25,000 in revenues, aggregated across all sales in every market, that commission will drop to 20 percent for the lifetime of the app.
This is in stark contrast with Apple, who do not allow companies to run their own in-app payments systems or manage their own relationships with customers. The Financial Times even pulled their iPad and iPhone apps from Apple’s App Store in August of this year because it did not want to give Apple control over its customer data and in-app transactions.
Microsoft also took a veiled dig at Apple’s notoriously illogical and random app approval system:
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. […] We’ll give feedback to developers whose apps are rejected, so they can address the issues quickly and resubmit the app for publication.
Our app certification policies are now published, and are organized around just a few, clear precepts. We designed the policies to help ensure quality and predictability in core app behaviors while enabling innovation and differentiation in app experiences.
But do consumers actually want either Windows 8 or a Windows App Store? Research firm IDC told Computer Weekly that existing PC users are unlikely to be interested in upgrading to Windows 8:
"Windows 8 will be largely irrelevant to the users of traditional PCs, and we expect effectively no upgrade activity from Windows 7 to Windows 8 in that form factor.
"Customers will be asking 'What value does Windows 8 bring to my desktops and laptops?' and the only real benefit I can see is that it provides access to the Windows app store.”
This will disappoint app developers who are assuming that their apps are going to have a huge audience. Developer Sina Mobasser told Reuters:
“The sheer size of their audience is something I’m excited about. The question is, are these users going to buy these apps.”
A better question would be, are these users going to buy Windows 8 in the first place?