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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  • UMADBRO - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Thankfully, I dont agree. Im actually going to give it a shot before I completely make up my mind about it. Maybe you should too. Reply
  • martin5000 - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I said I trying to like it, i.e. I haven't finished concluding my opinion of it. The problem is that every detail of metro I've seen so far is very disappointing. Reply
  • cfaalm - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I don't hate it. IIt just hasn't sunk into mee how this will be usefull for a deskttop, especially with professional applications that mostly require the whole screen, and want to run without much else going on. We need to know if we can tone it down and shut some of that stuff off. Reply
  • SteelCity1981 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    This will be Vista 2.0. i'll be waiting for Windows 9.

    The ribbon menu is dumb if people didn't like it in office 2007 people aren't going to like it on their Windows!

    The start menu is dumb. Why make the change to using a metro start menu when the regular one in Windows 7 worked perfectly fine.

    Metro UI is really dumb. I want an actual desktop not something with a bunch of tiles all over the place as my main screen.
    Reply
  • Ahmed0 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    I actually got used to the ribbon in Office 2007. However, the problem lies in that the ribbon needs to be well executed for it to be useful. And to my frustration there are some programs that fail at it (like AutoCAD). After I install a program I shouldnt have to start customizing EVERYTHING just to be productive.

    Sadly, change doesnt necessarily mean progress. Its certainly not very wise to take one step forward in one area but two steps back in all the other areas.

    With that said, Im not going to criticize W8 before I try it myself.
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    I am trying it in a VM. And I'm hating it too.

    The thing that makes it perfect for smartphones and tablets (limited screen space, or lack of a keyboard) makes it crap on the desktop, at least so far.

    I have a strong suspicion that MS will make it optional (turn on/off) in the final version. It's probably great for people who have a net-top with a touchscreen, but for a power-user, it just dumbs down the Windows interface to a point where it's inflexible, perhaps more difficult to use.
    Reply
  • lurker22 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Here's the deal. MS by changing the UI so dramatically in an attempt to keep the consumer market is going to now threaten its corporate customers. Fact is corporations use an OS to run applications, new UI means the corporation gets to re-train people. If you have to re-train people it's often not worth the expense, and it also opens the door to the question of "If we have to re-train everyone, do we really need to stay with Windows?"

    MS is damned either way I guess.
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Who says this will EVER be in Windows Server? And you can disable Metro UI. You don't HAVE to use it. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    From MS: "Metro is the Windows shell [...] from the smallest tablet to the server". Reply
  • quiksilvr - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Then their server team is just lazy. Why would you want this on your server? It makes no sense. The Windows 8 interface, yes, but that Metro UI skin? Hell to the no. It's like Themes and Desktop Backgrounds for Windows Server 2008, it makes no sense not to have it. Just a waste of space. Reply

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