The Windows Store

As we mentioned previously, the Windows Store will be the Metro carrot for developers. At the same time it will be a significant change for end-users, double-so for Windows users who move to ARM.

Fundamentally the Windows Store is as you’d expect: it’s Microsoft’s rendition of the application stores we see on Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Ubuntu, etc. It will have a prominent place in Windows 8 (currently it’s the 2nd tile) and Microsoft would be very happy if all of their developers distributed applications through it. For x86/x64 users it will be just another source of applications; Metro applications can be sold through it, while for Win32 applications it will act as a listing service directing users to the owner's website. For ARM users however the Windows Store will be the only place users can get applications from, thereby not only requiring they be Metro, but that the entire experience for ARM users will be a walled garden like iOS.

Unfortunately the Store is one of the few features Microsoft showed off during the press event that was not enabled on our tablet. Right now Microsoft is still working on what their content standards will be, a Terms of Service agreement, pricing/developer cuts, etc.

As it stands the store itself looks like functions exactly how you’d expect a Metro based application store to behave. The store will only be accepting and selling Metro applications, so non-Metro applications will continue to be installed via traditional methods.

The Windows Store alongside Metro’s APIs will serve as a two-pronged approach for security for Microsoft. Metro applications will have a fine grained permissions system similar to Android, and as a result most applications will have even fewer rights than today’s applications running with user level permissions, as applications will only be given the permissions they ask for and the user approves. Meanwhile the Store’s content approval process will further weed out bad applications. As such we’d expect Microsoft’s pitch to end-users to be something along this line: so long as you stay in the walled garden, you’re guaranteed to be secure.

From an end-user perspective one big thing differentiating the Windows Store from Apple’s Mac App Store is that Microsoft will also be allowing developers to offer time limited trials through the store, by building on top of Microsoft’s existing DRM/licensing technologies. Along these lines Microsoft will also be offering the now obligatory ability to make in-application purchases, allowing developers to sell application features beyond just the application itself.

We’re still waiting to see how software updates are handled, but at this point it’s reasonable to expect that they will become part of the Windows Update process as low-priority updates.

The layout/categorization of the store hasn’t been finalized, but it’s going to be of great interest from developers and end-users alike thanks to its significant status on ARM devices. Microsoft has gained a lot of experience from the Xbox Live Store, and at the same time developers have gained a lot of experience living and dying by the Xbox Live Store. As it currently stands Microsoft will have a curated “Spotlight” category, while other categories such as “Games” will be semi-to-fully automated.

From a development standpoint Microsoft is pitching the Store not only as an easy to access storefront for their wares, but as a source of analytic/telemetry information. Developers will have access to sales data (including sales relative to category leaders), crash reports, certain usage statistics, and other types of information commonly seen in other application stores.

Finally for developers, Microsoft is also looking at what they can do to beat Apple when it comes to application submission and approval. The Windows Store will of course have content restrictions and technical requirements, and Microsoft is looking to capitalize on making those mechanisms transparent versus Apple’s black box process. The Store’s terms have not been finalized yet, but Microsoft is promising that they’ll clearly outline what will be acceptable for the Store. For applications already submitted to the Store there will be a status page developers can access that will tell them which stage their application is currently at: pre-processing, security testing, technical compliance, content compliance, signing and publishing, and finally release. Microsoft’s technical compliance requirements will be public, and developers will have access to the tools needed to test technical compliance ahead of time to confirm compliance before submitting it to Microsoft.

Developing For Metro – WinRT: The Metro API The Technical Side Of Windows 8
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  • Booster - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    It's the ribbon again, but infinitely worse. Metro is just outright stupid, that is.

    I remember watching a presentation by Julie Larson-Green where she pitched the ribbon back in 2006. IIRC she said that they listened to the users and created the ribbon according to their usage scenarios. So according to her the ribbon was next best thing since sliced bread.

    Who were they listening to? The ribbon looks better give or take, but it's less useful in the workflow, it's less effective, it's just plain worse than the old concept. That division of MS doesn't listen to users, it's like a dictatorship in which we have to use our PCs the way that madam wants us to. But she doesn't do any actual work on the PC like me for example. Hell, you can't even preview a page or print without setting up the ribbon, where's the usability? Why do I have to scroll between all those damn tiles?

    This Windows 8 fiasco is where MS finally needs to realize the situation and finally take the matters well in hand.
    Reply
  • archer75 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    You do realize you don't have to use the metro tile UI right? You can boot right in to a traditional desktop like you are used to.
    Plenty of updates here for the desktop user.

    Really this new metro UI just provides a better layer for tablets but the OS is still there which i'm really pumped about. I don't know how often i've been using my ipad and wishing I could access a real OS on it.
    Reply
  • Moricon - Friday, September 16, 2011 - link

    "Overall Windows 8 is extremely jarring right now from a desktop user perspective. Metro is the Windows shell, no ifs ands or butts. Metro applications can only be accessed through the Metro shell (i.e. the Start Screen), and the Metro shell is always what the tablet will boot up into. Explorer as we know it is the Metro shell – if you kill it, you kill Metro shell with it – so at this time it’s not possible to boot up into the traditional Windows desktop. Even if you could, the Start Menu is gone, replaced with Metro charms."

    Metro IS the windows Shell--- METRO IS EXPLORER!!!!

    Have you loaded the build, I have, played with it. IT SUCKS bigtime!

    Microsoft will go back on this, the pressure will be to great from the desktop user!

    There are improvements, better memory management, faster boot process, safer recovery options, faster work-flow (yes ribbon is actually better for non-power users, who use keyboard shortcuts.)

    Why can they not just bring those improvements to th Win desktop version and leave metro to Tablets, Netbooks and ARM anyway.

    My days of PC Gaming are coming to a close, most Games are crap! Looks seriously like Mint will become my main Work OS and I will keep a copy of WIN7 for my back catalog of games!
    Reply
  • MrBungle123 - Friday, September 16, 2011 - link

    How is this Metro crap going to work for those of us that make a living with a mouse and keyboard?

    I work in IT, I have to do everything from assisting users to writing programs. Its not uncommon for me to have Visual Studio, Outlook, IE, 2 databases, and 5 or 6 Remote Desktop connections going on at the same time.

    There is no way in hell I'm putting this garbage on my work computer, nor am i going to install it on any of the desktops/servers connected to my network. This is a user training nightmare, the resistance to migrating to Vista from XP is nothing compared to what the resistance of migrating from Win7 to Win8 will be if the final product is anything like this.
    Reply
  • talk2dfox - Friday, September 16, 2011 - link

    Does anyone else think Windows 8 seems to have no coherent strategy?

    For users:

    1) two different types of applications, which can't run side by side: what do you do if you are a business user who needs to switch efficiently between one application which is Metro-based and another which is not?

    2) switch to the desktop and click on the start button and you're back at the Metro UI? huh? Are the only desktop applications I can start directly from the desktop UI the ones which have links on the desktop?

    3) some settings are in the metro control panel, others in the old windows control panel

    4) too many gestures which will be impossible to remember because they bear no relation to anything you've used before. The whole reason why the touch experience of iPhone et al has caught on (and why even small children catch on to it quickly) is that it is familiar. Want to move what's currently on the screen up? put your finger on it and move it up as if it were a physical object. Want to zoom? use two fingers to "stretch" or "shrink" the image. So, what's the comparable analogy in Metro for swiping up to select a button? There isn't any. Not that Microsoft had much choice - they're trying to graft a touch experience onto an existing Windows UI which has too many different functions without physical analogies, so some of them are bound to be mapped to something weird. But that's the point - trying to graft a touch experience onto the existing Windows UI is never going to produce something coherent and intuitive.

    For developers:

    5) yet another API, but all the old APIs (.net and win32) still supported (but only on x86, not ARM).

    6) If you are starting to develop an application today, what should you use?

    Will an app built for Windows Phone 7 today be portable to Metro (and sellable via the Windows 8 store)? If not, will it run at all on an ARM-based metro phone or tablet? What about an x86 based tablet or desktop?

    What if you want to write an application to be used on Win 8 on all form factors? The only thing which will run on Win 8 on ARM will be Metro, but the development tools for Metro don't exist yet. Think about how far WP7 is behind iPhone and Android today, and then consider what the situation will be like for Win 8 which is just now reaching the point where Microsoft can demo the UI and talk about development.

    Contrast this situation with iOS/OS X: With a single language (objective C), a single development environment (xcode), and two variants of essentially the same framework (Cocoa), you can target iPhone/iPad and Mac.
    Reply

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