In a blog post, Microsoft partner program manager Ted Dworkin said the store is "a truly global offering" that will give users of Windows 8 PCs and tablets access to an enormous variety of apps.
"We’ve seen a great increase in both the number and diversity of apps--all during our preview milestones, before broad availability of the OS and before even the first production Windows 8 PC is in the market," said Dworkin.
MSDN subscribers get a free one-year developer account on the Windows Store, and Microsoft is also offering a free year to student developers through a program called DreamSpark.
[ Get expert guidance on Microsoft Windows 8. InformationWeek's Windows 8 Super Guide rounds up the key news, analysis, and reviews that you need. ]
Microsoft also announced a number of new apps that will be appearing in the Windows Store.
NASA will release free apps related to its Mars missions and other scientific endeavors. Viddy, whose apps allow users to make brief, 15-second videos, is also planning a Windows 8 app. "Viddys are the new '140 characters' of video," said a Viddy spokesperson. For developers, Flurry Analytics plans to port a Windows Phone 7 app that allows developers to monitor how users are engaging with their apps.
"Throughout the Windows Store preview stages, we've seen fantastic interest from individual developers, large development houses, and component and service providers," said Dworkin. The apps are meant for use in Windows 8's Metro mode, an interface that first made its appearance in Windows Phone 7.
Metro-style apps are optimized for touch and displayed at full-screen, like a mobile app. For tablets running Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 designed to run on ARM-based mobile chips, the Windows Store will be the only source of third-party apps. Windows-on-Arm devices won't be capable of running applications written for previous versions of Windows, including Windows 7, Vista, and XP.
Windows 8 Professional and Enterprise users will have access to traditional applications from ISVs that run on the desktop, as well as Metro apps from the Windows Store.
The Windows Store is now open to developers in 120 markets, according to Microsoft. Windows 8 is slated for general release on Oct. 26, at which time a number of hardware makers, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and ASUS, will also start shipping Windows 8 PCs, tablets, and convertibles.
Microsoft next month will also launch its self-branded Surface tablet for Windows 8 and Windows RT.
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