Windows 8 and the App Store

In case you haven’t heard, Windows 8 will have an App Store when it appears on the scene. The overall review of the App Store is mixed. Microsoft Watch has the best write-up regarding the marketing angle for the App Store. Microsoft is definitely doing everything it can to attract developer attention, including offering a sweet deal on revenue sharing. Mary-Jo Foley has a different perspective and brings up the point that the App Store may offer private stores that businesses can use to distribute in-house applications. I find that using the App Store for this purpose strangely compelling because it offers the user a way to get applications that’s familiar. John Dvorak, on the other hand, has sounded the alarm about the closed system that Microsoft and Apple seem to be developing. It may very well be that Microsoft’s and Apple’s motives aren’t altruistic, but John also brings out a number of positives for the App Store as well. All of these, and many other, articles bring out important points about the App Store. Reading them will help you understand what the App Store is all about. Of course, you’ll want to remain mindful that these posts are all coming before the beta is even on the street (expect to see it in February 2012).

While others are concerned mainly with the needs of users and businesses, my main concern is for the developer. In Considering the New Metro Interface—Ribbon Redux? I consider the issue of the closing architecture on the developer. Microsoft has created an environment where the developer will need to tread an increasingly fine line in order to create and distribute acceptable applications. As I read the various articles about the App Store, I have to wonder whether this new form of distribution will completely stifle innovation. After all, Microsoft will become the guardian of the gate that determines whether an application is successful.

Experienced developers will face an increasingly steep learning curve with Windows 8. Not only is there the Ribbon and the Metro interface to deal with, but now developers will need to discover new ways to market their application. Microsoft hasn’t yet said that developers must use the App Store, but the writing is on the wall and smart developers will make the move sooner than later. While some of my books, such as RibbonX for Dummies, address the Ribbon and books such as Professional Windows 7 Development Guide describe the latest techniques for creating Windows applications, none of my books (nor those of other authors) are preparing developers for the reality of the triple whammy of Ribbon, Metro interface, and App Store.

Supposedly Microsoft is already creating a wealth of applications for the App Store with the help of vendors who are on Microsoft’s short list of the faithful. If you’re interested in hearing more about the App Store, you can find a special Windows Store for Developers blog that will hopefully address the many concerns that you must have. Windows 8 is not yet closed, so developers can continue creating desktop applications that are sold in stores or online, but the days of the desktop application appear numbered. If the App Store and Metro interface pan out as Microsoft hopes they will, developers should begin writing for these environments sooner than later.

Of course, I’ll continue to write books that will address your needs. Any updates of my current books will include tips on working with the Metro interface and show how to get your application listed in the App Store. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you. What are your concerns about the direction in which Microsoft is moving? What do you need from me in the way of help to create applications for this new environment? Contact me with your questions and concerns at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.