Microsoft Entices Developers to Sell Apps in Windows Store

Microsoft aims to build a Windows 8 app store that would rival what Apple has achieved for iOS and Google for Android. It’s going all out to lure developers by offering incentives and pricing that should at least encourage them to take a long hard look.

If nothing else, says Microsoft, the potential market is huge. Arik Cohen, principal lead program manager for the Windows Store, enthuses on the company’s developer’s blog:

With more than 630 million licenses sold to date, across 200-plus countries and regions around the world, Windows has an unrivaled global reach. Combined with the flexibility of monetization options that the Windows Store provides, Windows 8 represents the single biggest developer opportunity for any platform. We look forward to seeing the apps you create!

The Deal

About those monetization options: Developers will get up to an 80 percent cut of revenue once an app generates $25,000 in sales, 10 percent more than Apple doles out. Price levels will be higher than at Apple or Google, with a minimum of $1.49 and a maximum of $999.99. One bit of bad news: Microsoft won’t provide payment until you accumulate at least $200 in sales.

Some other important points:

  • Microsoft will let developers use either the Windows Store commerce platform or handle payments separately. It’s up to them.
  • Microsoft will offer an “app excellence lab” where developers can get one-on-one help from  a Microsoft services engineer. Get in line now, though. The service is available only to American developers, and only 250 design consultations and 500 technical review consultations will be available per month, first come, first serve.
  • There are costs associated with creating apps for the Windows Store. You need a Windows Store developer account, which costs $49 per year for individuals and $99 per year for companies.
  • Windows Store will support in-app purchases (badges, game levels, etc.) right out of the gate.
  • Microsoft will let developers create trial versions of their apps for users to try out. The designs, capabilities and time frames for the trial versions will be left up to the developers.
  • Developers will be able to generate revenue from in-app advertising using any ad provider that meets the Windows 8 app technical requirements.

Where the Money Is

Jeff Prosise, co-founder of Windows development consulting firm Wintellect, believes developers should be excited about writing Window 8 apps. “If the platform is a success, it presents unparalleled opportunities to make money,” he says. “If you want to write an iPhone or iPad app, you have a huge market to play into but an equally huge base of apps to compete against. Windows 8, on the other hand, is an up-elevator on the ground floor. It’s a blank slate for app developers. Chances are the app you’re thinking about doesn’t exist already, so if you’re first to market with it, you can reap the rewards.”

Critics say Microsoft’s biggest challenge will be to convince skeptical developers to design for the tile-style mobile-optimized Metro interface. It’s new and innovative, but because Microsoft will let users turn it off and use “classic” Windows instead, it’s optional. If users remain lukewarm to Metro, developers may resist making the effort to create versions for it.

Still, says Prosise, it’s wise to dive in since mobile is where the action is going to be in software development for the next few years. “Companies are going to be built, and millionaires are going to be made,” he predicts. “There is more opportunity awaiting the entrepreneurial developer right now than there has been since the mid-1980s. If you ignore Windows 8, you ignore the part of the Microsoft stack that lets you tap into this nascent market.”

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