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|Windows Store—The State of the Store|
|Monday, 10 September 2012|
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Windows 8 became available to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and volume licensing customers Aug. 16, 2012, and paid applications became available in the Windows Store. A strong Windows Store inventory could be an indicator of the health of the WinRT platform used on Windows 8 and Windows RT. (Only WinRT-based applications can be installed on Windows RT.) Marketplace growth could help enterprises and ISVs decide when to focus resources on development for the new platform. While the number of available applications is low, it will grow, especially after Windows 8 and Windows RT become generally available on Oct. 26, 2012.
Counting on Applications
Directions on Microsoft has been using an unofficial mechanism to track the number of applications available in the Windows Store. On Aug. 16, 2012, approximately 530 applications were available. The number passed 1,000 on Sept. 5, 2012, when 1,001 applications were available in the store.
Not all applications are available in the languages of all 90 locales supported by the Windows Store and not every application is available for all three architectures supported by the Store: Windows 8 for Intel/AMD x86, Windows 8 for Intel/AMD x64, and Windows RT for ARM-based processors. Finally, while the Windows Store does provide entries for desktop applications that can be purchased outside of the Store and installed on Windows 8, they are not included in this count, because they will not run on Windows RT and don't represent the growth of the WinRT platform.
Approximately 740 applications are available in the U.S. English locale, giving that locale the largest collection of applications in the Store. Applications should generally only be available in locales where their user interface has been localized into that geography and language, meaning some locales may lag others in terms of the count of applications, and many applications are limited to locales where they have the most applicability. Locales, on average, contained 490 applications, although 57 of the 90 locales feature fewer than 450 applications. Some applications also appear to have incorrect locale classifications. For example, applications in the U.S. English application store include classified ads for Hong Kong and information on merchandise that is only for sale outside of the United States. This could frustrate consumers if it isn't better controlled by Microsoft going forward.
The applications currently listed in the Store originate from smaller independent developers, large organizations, and large ISVs. Publishers include Microsoft (which currently offers 24 applications), AccuWeather, ASUS, AT&T, Toshiba, and several major news and entertainment organizations.
Games Lead Genres in U.S. Store
Approximately 88% of the applications in the US Store are available for free. Paid application prices range from US$1.49 (the lowest price that Microsoft permits for applications that are not free) to US$5.00, with the exception of six applications that are priced higher. The most expensive application in the entire Windows Store is a time reporting application for services businesses, which sells for US$14.99.
In the U.S. Store, most applications are currently in the categories of games (20%), entertainment (12%), and news & weather (10%). The business-related categories of productivity (8%), tools (5%), and business (2%) may appear low, but will likely grow by the time Windows 8 and Windows RT become generally available. (See the illustration "Windows Store App Category Breakdown".)
The category with the lowest application count (one application) is security. This could be due to the security architecture for WinRT-based applications, which run within tight boundaries maintained by the OS, both limiting the utility, or the need, for such applications. Five of the six applications currently in the government category are from a single vendor who offers geographically distinct versions of a single application. Free "novelty" applications aren't in the Store in large numbers, although some examples of this often-ridiculed consumer application segment are available.
The Windows Store features a rating system advising the appropriate age range of each application. Most current applications are categorized in the 12+ age range, but many are also available at the 3+ age range.
Windows Store applications are expected to target all three processor architectures supported by Windows 8 and Windows RT. However, applications in the U.S. Store currently favor support for x86 (735) and x64 (739), with fewer available for Windows RT on ARM processors (677). The Windows RT deficit may be lessened when Windows RT hardware becomes more widely available to ISV development teams.
The Windows Store is available from within Windows 8 and Windows RT, and will be available in Windows RT when tablets featuring that OS appear beginning in Oct. 2012.