Well well, we knew Microsoft had something in store for us at its Windows Store Preview event tonight, and it just revealed the look for its Windows 8 app-selling portal. It sports a new Metro-like UI, and comes with some new content from Disney, digital books and magazines, plus games like Cut the Rope are on tap, too. Bing's on board to index the whole store catalog and make all the fresh content easy to find, and the setup allows company websites to deep link to app descriptions in the store. There's also a mechanism for integrating app purchases from company websites built directly into the store infrastructure as well.
Of course, the new Windows Store isn't just for consumers, enterprise apps will also be available to fulfill your every business need. IT admins can deploy apps in a local version of the store, so that everything stays nice and secure on the internal networks. Not only that, but some secret sauce ensures that both enterprise and personal apps can be managed seamlessly on that slick new Windows 8 slate of yours. As for developers, Microsoft takes the now standard 30 percent cut of every app you sell in its store, but once you've sold $25,000 worth of software, that drops to 20 percent. For those interested in the full rundown of Microsoft's new app outlet, there's a video explaining its features and PR below and a Windows Store Blog will be hitting the web soon. The Windows Store is set to open its digital doors in late February of next year, with the Redmond crew only accepting free apps submitted by invitation only. So, if you're one of the chosen would-be Windows 8 devs, you better get cracking.
Myriam Joire contributed to this report.
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Windows Store Fact Sheet
Unparalleled Global Reach
The Windows Store will provide developers with the greatest opportunity of any platform, helping them reach millions of Windows 8-based PCs, desktops, laptops and tablets. The Windows Store will be global, enabling developers to sell their apps in 231 markets and in more than 100 languages. To make it easier and safer for customers, the Windows Store is the single source for Metro-style apps, with a side-loading feature for enterprises so IT professionals can manage and deliver apps and updates to their users with ease and confidence.
Maximizing Developer Revenue
Today, the industry standard is for developers to make 70 percent of every dollar spent on their apps. The Windows Store aims to maximize developer revenue and provide greater financial opportunity:
• Revenue model. Successful apps make more money on Windows by earning 80 percent of every dollar of revenue earned after passing $25,000 (U.S.) in total revenue. The first $25,000 (U.S.) is paid out at the industry standard 70 percent revenue share.
• Developer account. To sell apps in the Windows Store, developers must purchase an annual developer subscription of $49 (U.S.) for individuals, $99 (U.S.) for companies.
• App pricing. Developers can set the price of their app starting at $1.49 (U.S.), using $.50 (U.S.) increments up to $5 (U.S.). Increments increase at higher prices.
Flexible Business Models
The Windows Store will allow for flexible and innovative business models. Windows has long been about choice, and the Windows Store will put the developer in control:
• In-app purchases and transaction platforms. Developers using Microsoft's transaction service will earn 70 percent on revenue from in-app purchases until the app has earned $25,000 (U.S.). After passing that amount of gross revenue between the app sales and in-app purchase revenue, they will receive 80 percent share. Developers are also free to utilize alternate transaction services for in-app purchases other than the one provided by Microsoft, and Microsoft will keep 0 percent of the proceeds.
• Advertising. Developers can use Microsoft's ad platform or another third-party vendor.
Optimized for Discoverability
One challenge for today's developer is having apps stand out and be easily discoverable. A similar challenge exists for customers to search, locate and download the apps they want, from exciting new games to productivity tools they already know and trust on Windows. The Windows Store is designed with discoverability and promotion as top priorities:
• App listing page. Developers can use this space to pitch their app and provide details, including a description, features, screen shots, app reviews and capabilities.
• Trials. Developers can offer apps as a trial without writing a single line of code and set the trial period to reduce barriers to adoption and eliminate the need for "lite" versions.
• Curation and discovery. Algorithmically generated lists highlighting frequently downloaded apps by category complemented by curated spotlight and topic sections help consumers find and download the apps they want.
• Search. Although the Windows Store will be the primary vehicle for consumers to find and download apps, Microsoft helps app discovery outside the Windows Store. All app listing pages will be exposed to Bing and other search engines.
• Promotion through Windows Internet Explorer 10. Additional potential for visibility is built into Internet Explorer 10. With a single line of markup, developers can have an app site icon appear in Internet Explorer 10 that will take Windows 8 users directly to the listing page in the Windows Store to download the app.
Transparent Approval Process
The goals of the Windows Store app certification process are to ensure trusted, quality experiences for consumers while being as simple and transparent as possible for developers. Developers can test their app through the Windows App Certification Kit (ACK) and troubleshoot any technical issues before submitting to the Windows Store. After submission, they will be able to use the Windows Store Dashboard to watch their app every step of the way. The Windows Store App Certification Requirements (http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/windows/apps) detail criteria for testing and certifying apps for the Windows Store.
• App approval policies. In addition to technical certification, Microsoft will evaluate Metro-style apps against a set of clear and published policies before the app is ultimately published to the Windows Store. The full policy, based on core values, can be viewed at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/windows/apps.
• Application Certification Kit. The new ACK, available now for the Windows Developer Preview, is a single tool for self-assessment to ensure all technical compliance required for apps. It improves on the Windows Software Logo Kit with a new, simplified user interface, improved multiuser tests and auto-detection of app type. The ACK includes automated tests looking for such things as app manifest compliance, app reliability and security, and proper use of platform-supported APIs. The ACK runs the same tests as those run during the submission process, so by using the ACK first, developers know if their app meets technical compliance and can troubleshoot issues before submission to the Windows Store, saving valuable time.
• Windows Store Dashboard. The new dashboard will help developers see where their app is in the submission process, with notifications every step of the way. After submission, the dashboard will provide useful app telemetry data, which allows developers to continually improve their apps. The dashboard will include the ability to view reports on downloads, revenue, usage, in-app transactions, customer ratings, market trends and crash data. These new reports will be consistent and actionable so developers can find and fix issues quickly and efficiently.