Microsoft on Tuesday brought its Windows 8 road show to San Francisco, where the company previewed its upcoming Windows Store for app developers and media. The key ingredients of the Windows Store are easy app discovery from within and without the online marketplace, built-in app trials with quick upgrade paths, support for both x86 and ARM-based hardware, and a flexible business model, Microsoft's Antoine Leblond said.
The Windows Store will open in beta in late February of next year in conjunction with the Windows 8 rollout schedule. That trial period will feature free apps only and app submissions will be by invitation only, Leblond said.
The software giant has a long way to go to catch up with the likes of Apple and Google in developing an online marketplace for what Microsoft calls "metro-style" apps, but IDC analyst Al Hilwa said the Windows Store was a step in the right direction.
"There is a lot to like in the new app store," Hilwa said. "I like that Microsoft is launching the app store early and that enterprises will be able to side load apps as needed and that Microsoft is promising hopefully early support for this process in its management tools. For developers I like some of the second-generation features baked in and ready to roll, such as in-app payment system, the advertising network, and the developer analytics features."
Microsoft has officially launched the Windows 8 Developer Preview at its BUILD conference this morning, with the download actually becoming available later this week in the new Windows Dev Center, but if you're at BUILD, you'll get your copy there. In addition, they've also announced the Windows Store - yep, it's pretty much like the Mac App Store, but, for Windows. The store will include Metro-style apps (think Windows Phone 7 UI) as well as the more traditional Windows apps that you're used to. We'll be going hands-on with the Windows 8 Developer Preview in just a bit, and will report back with our thoughts!