Now that we’ve covered the bulk of Windows’ new UI elements, it’s time to get down to some individual apps, and there’s no app more important to Windows 8’s success than the Windows Store.

Unfortunately, at this point it's a bit difficult to tell how the store is going to work out—it seems like one of the less-finished apps provided in the Consumer Preview. There are basic categories for games, social apps, music apps, and a few others, but aside from the basic Search functionality (which is accessed from the Charms menu), there's just a sprawling "top free" list and a lot of scrolling. The Windows Store definitely shouldn't be judged on this early iteration, but a lack of polish (unlike in other Metro screens, more tiles don't show up when more screen space is available—if you look at the Store on a screen with a vertical resolution of much more than 768 pixels, you'll just see a big unused area of white space below the Store tiles) and missing features make it a rough demo at best.

As in both the Apple and Android app stores, you’ll need to sign in with a Windows Live ID to download anything from the Windows Store. If you used your Windows Live ID to create an account during Windows Setup, the OS can download and install apps without asking you for any extra information, but you can still use your Live ID even if you chose to create a local account. Once you’ve purchased an app, you’ll be able to download that app to any Windows 8 or Windows on ARM device you’ve signed into with your Windows Live ID.

All of the preview apps in the Windows Store are currently offered free of charge, but in the RTM version of the store developers will be able to offer both “Buy” and “Try” buttons for apps with demos—apps can have either timed or feature-limited demos available. Unlocking the full version of the app requires no separate download, and all of your saved data from the demo is still available. Info pages for apps also list compatible processor architectures—x86, x64, and ARM.

As seen above, when updates are available a small number will appear on the Windows Store tile. Entering the Store and clicking the "Updates" link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen will present a list of available updates, which you can install individually or all at once.

Apps submitted to the Windows Store have to make it through Microsoft’s approval process, which looks to be a more developer-friendly version of Apple's system: Windows 8 will be a curated platform, which should help curb some of the malware problems that Android is having. However, criteria for approval are clearly laid out, and developers whose apps are rejected will be given feedback on what changes they'll need to make to get approved. Microsoft is also updating its development tools to help guide developers through all the steps of the certification process.

For both advertisements and in-app purchases, Microsoft offers its own platforms but does not mandate their use. If a newspaper or magazine publisher has an existing database of its users and a pre-existing authentication system, that publisher is free to continue using them in its app. Apple began mandating the use of its systems for in-app purchases last year, meaning that all in-app purchases on iOS are subject to Apple’s 70/30 revenue split, and Google may be moving to prohibit third-party in-app purchases even as you read this.

Lastly, let’s assuage the fears of enterprise administrators: via group policies and PowerShell scripts, domain administrators can both permit and deny access to the Windows Store and to individual apps, and can also deploy Metro apps directly to PCs without using the Windows Store at all. This opens the door to volume-licensed apps, and will help IT admins to provide a consistent set of programs and features across different Windows 8 systems.

Whether the Windows Store will succeed remains to be seen—things like app discovery and user interface are important, but in the end the Windows Store is just a portal that will live or die on the quality and quantity of its apps. Those that are available are in a preview state, and while we’ll look at a few of the core Metro apps later on in this article, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to to do in-depth reviews of apps that are in beta-at-best states.

I will lay out one major concern up-front: while apps like Evernote and Cut the Rope do well on smartphones and tablets, I wonder how well more full-featured programs like Photoshop and Office will scale to Metro with their functionality intact. The Windows Store and its WinRT APIs are Microsoft’s future, but take this as a case in point: Microsoft is going to be shipping a copy of Office with every Windows on ARM tablet, but rather than providing Metro versions of Word, Office, PowerPoint, and OneNote to show developers how it’s done, it’s providing copies of those programs that will run only in the desktop environment, and it’s doing this in spite of the fact that no other developers will be able to use the Windows desktop on Windows-powered ARM tablets.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Office apps will never get Metro styling, and it doesn’t mean that developers aren’t going to make some nice, feature-rich Metro apps, but Microsoft’s refusal to eat its own dog food in this case makes me a little nervous about the kind of programs we’ll end up seeing in Metro.

The Desktop: Windows Explorer and multi-monitor support New features: Refresh and Reset and Storage Spaces
POST A COMMENT

286 Comments

View All Comments

  • yannigr - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    This is more of a funny post but.... do you hate AMD systems? Are AMD processors extinct? I mean 8 systems ALL with Intel cpus? Come on. Test an AMD system JUST FOR FUN..... We will not tell Intel. It will be a secret. :p Reply
  • Gothmoth - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    AMD?

    who is still using AMD?
    except some poor in third world countrys?

    no.. im just joking... AMD is great and makes intel cheaper.. if only they would be a real competition.

    but what about ARM?
    that would be more interesting.. but i guess we have to wait for that.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    In defense of Andrew's choice of CPU, you'll note that there's only one desktop system and the rest are laptops. Sorry to break it to you, but Intel has been the superior laptop choice ever since Pentium M came to market. Llano and Brazos are the first really viable AMD-based laptops, and both of those are less than a year old. AFAIK, Andrew actually purchased (or received from some other job) the laptops he used for testing, and they're all at least a year old. Obviously, the MacBook stuff doesn't use AMD CPUs, so that's three of the systems.

    As for the two laptops I tested, they're also Intel-based, but I only have one laptop with an AMD processor right now, and it's a bit of a weirdo (it's the Llano sample I received from AMD). I wouldn't want to test that with a beta OS, simply because it's likely to have driver issues and potentially other wonkiness. Rest assured we'll be looking at AMD systems and laptops when Win8 is final, but in the meantime the only thing likely to be different is performance, and that's a well-trod path.
    Reply
  • DiscoWade - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    Last year, I needed to buy a new laptop. I wanted a Blu-Ray drive and a video card. I thought I would have to settle for a $1000 computer with an Intel processor. I had narrowed my choices down to a few all with the Intel i-series CPU. When I went to test some out at Best Buy, because I wanted to play with the computer to see if I liked it, I saw a discontinued HP laptop on sale for $550. It was marked down from $700. It had the AMD A8 Fusion CPU and a video card and a Blu-Ray drive. So I got a quad-core CPU with 4 hour actual battery life that runs like a dream very cheap. I was a little apprehensive at first with buying the AMD CPU, but a few days of use allayed my fears.

    If you say Intel makes better laptop CPU's, you haven't used the AMD A series CPU. It has great battery life and it runs great. How often will I use my laptop for encoding video and music? The dual-AMD graphics is really nice. Whenever I run a new program, it prompts which graphic card to use, the discrete for power savings or the video card for maximum performance. I like that.

    Yes if I wanted more power, the Intel is the way to go. But my laptop isn't meant for that. And most people don't need the extra performance from an Intel CPU. Every AMD A8 and A6 I've used runs just as good for my customers and friends who don't need the extra performance of an Intel.

    However, I haven't yet been successful installing my TechNet copy of W8CP on this laptop. I'm going to try again this weekend while watching lots of college basketball. (I love March Madness!) If anybody can help, I would appreciate if you let me know at this link:
    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/w...
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    You do realize that Jared explicitely excluded Llano and Brazos from his comment? A8, A6, A4 - they're all Llano. Reply
  • Samus - Monday, March 12, 2012 - link

    I'm actually shocked he didn't use an AMD E-series laptop (HP DM1z, Lenovo x120/x130, etc) as they have sold hundreds of thousands in the last 12 months. I see a DM1z every time I'm in an airport, and x120's are very commonplace in education.

    Remembering the Sandybridge chipset recall last year, this really gave AMD a head start selling low power, long battery life laptops, and they have sold very well, and belong in this review when you consider the only laptops you can buy new for <$400 are AMD laptops, and that is a huge market.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Monday, March 12, 2012 - link

    This isn't a review. Also, he didn't have one.

    Quite open to somebody benching a DM1z on W8CP, though. ;)
    Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    While Intel may have the better performance CPU in laptops, they have the *worst* (integrated) graphics possible in laptops, and have 0 presence in the sub-$500 CDN market.

    You'd be surprised how many people actually use AMD-based laptops, especially up here in Canada, mainly for three reasons:
    - CPU is "good enough"
    - good quality graphics are more important than uber-fast CPU
    - you can't beat the price (17" and 19" laptops with HD4000+ graphics for under $500 CDN, when the least expensive Intel-based laptop has crap graphics and starts at over $700 CDN)
    Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    A bit confused by your post. What is HD 4000 graphics? Granted Llano is superior to SB, but Llano is 66xx series isnt it? I though AMD 4000 series was a motherboard integrated graphics solution that is very weak. Intel SB graphics will be far superior to any integrated solution except Llano.

    I agree for my use, I would buy Llano in a laptop ( and only in a laptop) because I want to do some light gaming, but I dont understand your post. I would also not really call SB graphics "crap" unless you want to play games.
    Reply
  • inighthawki - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    HD 4000 is referring to the intel integrated graphics on the new ivy bridge chips - nothing to do with AMD chips Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now