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7/2/2013
03:44 PM
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Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps

Microsoft reached the 100,000 apps mark much faster than its iOS and Android equivalents. But the milestone is still only a qualified victory.

10 Hidden Benefits of Windows 8.1
10 Hidden Benefits of Windows 8.1
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The Windows Store now includes more than 100,000 Modern-style apps for Windows 8 and Windows RT. Microsoft's marketplace crossed the six-figure threshold a little over eight months after launch -- much faster than Google and Apple's respective stores achieved the same volume.

The milestone might seem like a triumph for Microsoft. To an extent, it is. But the company was slow to embrace the mobile game, and much has changed in the meantime. While 100,000 apps is a victory, it's a qualified one.

Apple took more than a year to hit the century mark, and Android took even longer. But Microsoft allowed both platforms a big head start in the mobile space, and both capitalized. The iOS ecosystem boasts more than 850,000 apps, including more than 350,000 optimized for the iPad, and the Android universe is comparably huge. Windows 8 arguably has the most software leverage of any platform, with the ability to run not only the Modern titles but also legacy x86 applications. But that capability has produced only incremental improvements in market share.

Microsoft's achievement must be measured according to a new context, in other words. The world-beating standards to which prior Windows releases were held are much more difficult to sustain. There are too many options, and BYOD has given consumers much influence. The question isn't merely if Microsoft can catch up in the apps race but also how the company will respond to the millions of users who can't be tempted from competing ecosystems.

[ Looking for the best Win 8 budget apps? See 8 Free, Must-Have Windows 8 Apps. ]

On the topic of whether Windows 8 can catch up, its progress has been laudable but mixed. MetroStore Scanner, a site whose Windows Store tallies are often cited between official Microsoft statements, reports that after Windows 8 launched, app submissions dropped until February. Since then, activity has been on the rise. Microsoft has been offering $100 bonuses for new apps, and touting its revenue-sharing model, which pays up to 80% to the developer, as superior to competing opportunities. These efforts, as well as the steady stream of Windows 8.1 rumors, no doubt contributed to the renewed interest.

Last week, Microsoft used its Build developers conference to launch a preview version of Windows 8.1, an update with which the company hopes to address lingering unease about its Live Tiles interface. Unsurprisingly, June was also the Windows Store's best month to date, according to MetroStore Scanner, with around 640 new apps submitted daily.

But that progress is only part of the story.

When it comes to desktop dominance, Microsoft remains the undisputed champ; Windows versions cumulatively account for more than 91% of the market, and the Windows Store, the eventual destination for future desktop apps, trounces the Mac App Store for OS X.

But tablets are another matter. The number of Modern apps has risen, and Microsoft has secured some big-name partners, including Facebook. But the Windows Store still has an unfavorable quality-to-quantity ratio, and it still lacks major titles. True, 100,000 is a big number, but until more of the catalog attracts users, celebration is premature.

Even then, Android and iOS devices have cultivated committed user bases. People are using the tablets not only for recreation but also for work. Windows is still the most important OS in the enterprise, but If Microsoft doesn't extend some of its business software to its mobile competitors, it risks losing some of them to competing solutions.

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melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
7/3/2013 | 3:42:57 PM
re: Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps
The reason why it reached the number so quickly is because there are many developers with product out for Android and iOS. Some of them port their apps over. So it's easier than writi g from scratch. When iOS first supported apps, there was little out there that could be ported over. It was all do e from scratch.

But there is still a question over the quality, and range of those apps for Win 8. I have a problem finding apps as useful as those for iOS. No quality video or photo editors. I've got two CAD apps for my iPad, but nothing even close in Win 8. That seems to be true for most categories so far.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/3/2013 | 5:15:11 PM
re: Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps
That's true. The "time to 100,000 apps" stat is not an apples-to-apples comparison. It's one thing to basically establish the model for a new class of apps. That's what Apple did, and it takes a certain amount of time. It's another thing to create a platform that's suited to apps that already run on competing systems. That's, from a certain angle, what Microsoft did, and it implies different timing expectations.

I agree 100% on the app issue. Personally, on a touch device, I like the Modern UI much more than I dislike it, and many of the things that annoy me will be fixed in Windows 8.1. On a desktop-- different story. But the lack of apps is a real buzz kill either way.

Still, Microsoft is developing some cool ideas that will eventually translate into improved apps. Bing APIs, 3D printing hooks, and so on. But it's hard to get overly worked up about future apps when basic features are still missing.

-- Michael Endler, IW Associate Editor
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/3/2013 | 5:24:23 PM
re: Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps
Yes, the Modern app library is incomplete. But, we are talking about Win8 are we not? That means that you can find the apps you need that run in the legacy Desktop interface. Something that Android and iOS cannot do. If you are doing quality video and photo editing, then you probably won't want to be using a touch only interface anyway.
bwalker970
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bwalker970,
User Rank: Strategist
7/3/2013 | 5:28:46 PM
re: Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps
Microsoft wasn't slow to embrace the mobile game, they just did not know how to do it. Microsoft has been attempting to play in the mobile space for more than 16 years since the release of Windows CE. They have been at it longer than Palm. But, the most egregious mistake for Microsoft has been its failure to realize that desktop interaction and mobile interaction are fundamentally different. Before Apple literally showed them the way forward, Microsoft just tried to force fit Windows into a smaller footprint. They finally figured it out with Live Tiles but then they had to try to force feed the interface to their desktop users. <sigh>

Yes, 100,000 is a big number, but not so big if the number includes non-modern-UI apps. It's one thing to see 100,000 brand new apps. It's just cheating if a large number of those apps were simply repackaged.</sigh>
midmachine
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midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
7/3/2013 | 5:45:29 PM
re: Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps
Wait a minute, as AustinIT said, this is Windows - it also runs legacy desktop applications. A larger more complete and quality library isn't available on any other mobile platform. This is the point where MS has missed the marketing boat for Win8. The Metro touch interface is far batter than what I have had to use with the IPad or Android tablets/devices; including phones. Couple that with the power of productivity from the legacy applications and you have extremely good value for your buck when buying a tablet when compared to the almost pure consumption only capabilities of an IPad or Droid device. I'm waiting for the new better battery life chips from Intel and then I'm investing in a Surface Pro; can't get anything better since I not only consume but produce.
Majo
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Majo,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/3/2013 | 6:06:14 PM
re: Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps
How many apps - really!? How many are unique, and how many are poor knock-offs of a legit, leading app? There are few unique apps from service providers and vendors in a city or a region - the rest (500,000), unique to other locations, are counted but is of no service to an individual. They do make finding desired apps harder!
My guess is heavy app users have maybe 50 apps on their phone, median user having 10-25 apps. Most apps get deleted after just a few tries. So what does 850,000 really mean!
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/3/2013 | 6:28:00 PM
re: Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps
AustinIT and midmachine, you're both correct-- Windows 8 is much more than the Modern UI and its incomplete app library. The article references as much with the point about "leverage," but I didn't belabor it in this article since it's been a recurring theme in several others. Seton Hall, for example, chose Win8 tablets basically because they're the only ones that can double as x86-capable laptops. Our recent article about the "good and bad" of tablets at work also reiterated this theme.

It's a weird advantage, though. I like my Win8 tablet a lot-- but I'd like it more if it had more apps. I also wish it had some sort of 4G option. It hasn't in short, obviated the need for the iPad that also lives in my house. I'm thankful for Win8's ability to run Office or Lightroom when I'm in a compromised situation (e.g. a lightweight but capable device is great at conferences, or in airports, or when I'm stuck on the subway). But the keyboard dock isn't as ergonomic as a real laptop, and the screen size isn't ideal for sustained work. The Win8 tablet, in other words, hasn't reduced my need for a desktop or a laptop. AustinIT alluded to as much in his comment about photo and video editing. I haven't bothered to install Adobe Premier on my tablet because a) I'm skeptical that the processor is really up to the software's most demanding tasks, and b) who wants to keep track of several dozen layers of audio and video tracks on a 10-inch screen? Yes, I could connect the tablet to a bigger monitor and add peripherals, and maybe that's the way things are going. But right now, I still have an old iMac that's getting the job done.

That's a subjective case, but I think a lot of people are in similar predicaments when they think about shelling out for a Win8 device. People have old devices that they rely on, and though Windows 8 does everything, the extent to which it does any single thing better is open to debate. The OS's utility varies by device and by user need. This is why some people see it as a do-it-all panacea of an OS, while others see it as a mess, or as incomplete but promising.

I think the advantages of having both the Modern UI and the desktop in one package will ultimately outweigh the disadvantages. The convergence might not be perfect, but a lot of pragmatic, budget-minded buyers have already shown their interest. The fact that Windows 8.1 will clean things up has no doubt convinced a few more.

But Windows 8 tablets have x86 apps as a bonus, to a certain extent, which puts pressure on the Windows Store to get things together. Windows 8 desktops, meanwhile, get the Modern UI as a bonus, but users in this group haven't seem to want it. As attractive as the dual-UI is to some potential customers, it's easy to see why Windows 8 hasn't quite connected with everybody.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/3/2013 | 6:33:34 PM
re: Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps
I haven't looked to verify, but I think iOS is the "most used" mobile OS-- as in, the one that compels its users to use it the most. It leads in things like web traffic, and mobile app advertising. And developers still write for iOS first. But I'm not sure if those stats are current, and I'm sure there are some points in Android's favor that I'm neglecting. But your point is correct-- there's more to an app marketplace than the number of titles. When the article talks about the quality-to-quantity ratio, it's alluding to this point.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2013 | 1:47:51 PM
re: Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps
With literally billions of devices NOT running a Microsoft OS, M$ can't ignore that market for their software and service products.
MarkJones
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MarkJones,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/16/2013 | 2:05:06 PM
re: Windows 8 Store Hits 100,000 Apps
You have presented this idea of porting apps from iOS or Android to Windows 8 as a straightforward process, especially when you say "So it's easier than writing from scratch." Given the way you have presented it, I would strongly suspect you have never tried. The environments are so different that the only things that will port are designs and concepts -- very, very little code. Essentially, moving between the Windows and non-Windows world largely entails a rewrite, unless one has gone to tremendous lengths from the very beginning to write a cross-compatible software platform. Very few will have done that. So porting is not necessarily easier than starting from scratch except that most of the original design or software architecture can be applied to the new platform.
As such, the premise of your argument is highly unreliable. If code-porting sped up the life-cycle of the Windows 8 app ecosystem, it could only be attributed to porting from a past Windows-based software set, not porting from iOS or Android.
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