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


View All Comments

  • martin5000 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    "Microsoft would like developers writing applications in runtime or interpreted languages such as C#, VB, HTML5/CSS/JavaScript, and even Silverlight"

    Silverlight is not a language, its essentially just .NET for WP7 (and confusingly for web applications) its language is c#.

    Also, I think the author needs to look up WPF, this technology is already a complete replacement for the old style win32/winforms development. I imagine the new technologies will be related to WPF.
  • DEEPAYAN - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    very original, very ugly. never saw such a bad user .not all people use tablet ms. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Very easy to use, attractive to the non-techies, nearly everyone will eventually use a tablet. Reply
  • robinthakur - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Is it attractive though? It looks like a very festive powerpoint presentation...The main reasons that people stick with Windows, against all odds, is compatibility and familiarity. This blows away the latter. You saw how well they all took to Windows 7 Phone. Besides which, tere is always the danger that companies will skip Windows 8 en masse as they did with Vista, and that will almost force MS to reduce the amount of influence and interaction afforded to Metro in Windows 9/10. Reply
  • iwodo - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    I like Metro as a concept, or idea. But i have problem with Microsoft's implementation of Metro. It is, very Linux like. Apart from the Color i can tell it is from M$, almost all things else are like KDE / Gnome.

    Ribbon is a mess. Yes it exposes Far more options to the users. Yes it places the statistically most used function on top. Yes it is, may be easier to use.

    But I am sorry. It is ugly.

    I just wish, Microsoft could have a single switch that will make Windows 8 and Office 2010 all in collapsed mode Automatically.
  • mabellon - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    "single switch that will make Windows 8 and Office 2010 all in collapsed mode Automatically."

    This already exists in Windows 7 and Office 2010. It's been around for years. You can minimize the ribbon in two easy ways.

    1) Double click the top of the ribbon
    2) Right click the top of the ribbon, select 'Minimize the Ribbon"

    Hope this helps,
  • cjb110 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    I really don't have anything against Metro, and I think Microsoft have to do something drastic to the Windows UI to make it scale from desktops to tablets. And Metro could be it.

    However my problem is that if its currently half and half (like you mention the other settings loads normal control panel) then I don't think that's an going to be a good UIX, in fact I think it'll be damn jarring and piss people of more than it should.

    The OS, and control thereof needs to be fully Metro'ised, (or at least fit seamlessly in, it doesn't look like Vista/Win7 borders on task manager or explorer really fit).

    Basically if MS don't do that, say for control panel, they are basically admitting Metro isn't a comprehensive enough UI design.

    If MS state at some point, yes Win8 is half and half, and Win9 will complete the transition then fine, its the same place Apple is in with Lion I think (transitioning from an open desktop to a locked device)
  • dagamer34 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    The Control Panel has a Metro UI (you can see it several times in the demo). In fact, unless you need to open a specific app or do file management, you never have to see the desktop if you don't want to. And with the way apps are setup, I doubt you'll really care where the file is stored, as long as you're able to access it through search and it's backed up safely.

    Will the desktop disappear? No. But for a good chunk of what people use their computers for (e-mail and web surfing), it's not really that important. And getting away from traditional file management will be a BIG step forward to the future.
  • faizoff - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    I can't wait to load the beta release whenever it comes out. Looks very intriguing from just glancing at it.

    Would love to start playing with this OS.
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    and not succeeding.

    For a smart phone or tablet I can see the point although looks clunky to me.

    For a desktop just awful.

    The concept of yet more "ribbons" appearing is even worse. MS idea of context (especially in Word) is clearly not related to any work I or anyone I know does. Mind you I still think that Word is a much worse word processor for proper business than Wordperfect 5.1 which is only 20 years old

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