Last week Microsoft proudly previewed their Windows Store, their entrance into the already competitive app sales market currently being dominated by the Apple App Store and the Android Marketplace.
The catch? It’s not supposed to hit beta until February 2012 which only serves as added fuel to the ‘someday, sometime’ time-frame that Microsoft has become famous for.
Microsoft promises that the Windows Store will house something for everybody, consumers and corporate culture alike. The one-stop-shop approach could prove to be very popular with larger businesses, particularly because Microsoft is also offering the ability to deploy local versions of the store containing the apps required for their users and network configurations. Not only does this offer added security but gives infinite large-scale roll out potential. This could mean significant savings for organizations that encounter frequent hardware and software changes (and being a little tongue-in-cheek, should make it easier to patch and re-patch as required), especially with centralized IT departments managing multiple non-local offices.
That isn’t the only advantage. Bing has been employed to index the catalog of available apps with promises being made that new content will be as easy to find as the tried and true classic titles. This ‘how do I find what I am looking for’ question is something that users of the Apple and Android app stores have often complained about so there is potential here to resolve a serious pain-point which could help to win over consumer hearts.
App stores are nothing without developer support so it will be important for Microsoft to be as attractive and persuasive as possible to those who stand to populate their app offering. Initially developers can expect to hand a 30% commission over to Microsoft for the privilege of participating in this endeavor, however if your sales end up totaling more than US $25,000.00 you will enjoy seeing that cut drop to 20%. Developer registration fees run between US $49.00 – $99.00 which comes in at a comparable rate to Apple but much higher than the US $5.00 that Google charges.
While the success of the Windows Store can only be speculated at this stage there are still a lot of questions. I’d place my bets on success being tied to whether Windows users can enjoy the same popular titles as the other operating systems (we all know how important Angry Birds has become)… but also whether they provide usable (and affordable) access to the comfort-food style app-equivalents like Word and Outlook that so many users have come to rely on.
Initial participation in the Windows Store will be by invitation-only giving quite an advantage to those developers who are fortunate enough to be among the chosen few.