Windows 8 Store Needs To Be Fixed Before Launch

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 15, 2012
Updated • Apr 15, 2012
Windows, Windows 8

If you have followed the development of Microsoft's upcoming operating system Windows 8 up to this point you know that the OS will ship with a store for Metro apps. That's significant in a number of ways. A store for one means that Windows users will be able to install first and third party apps right from within the operating system without having to use a third party program to do so. While it does not cover desktop applications at all, it is a step that is both beneficial to Microsoft and the customers.

Microsoft benefits from the control that they have over the store, and the extra revenue that its generates. Customers benefit from the review process that makes sure that malicious or harmful apps are rejected right away, and ease of access.

Windows 8 Store Issues

windows store

The store as it stands now has several issues which I'd like to discuss in the following paragraphs.

  1. Navigation - The only way to navigate the store is to scroll horizontally. While this may make sense on touch enabled devices, it does not offer the best user experience on desktop PCs. But even if there was an option to change the page layout and thus the scrolling direction, it would not really address the core issue: Lack of overview. How many app groups are available? You do not see that on the start page. Only after scrolling all the way to the right, and remembering the group positions. An option to jump to a specific category is missing, and Microsoft should consider adding a table of contents options to the store.
  2. Filters - While it is possible to display only free apps (there are no paid apps yet in the store), there is no option yet to filter by app type. If you never want to buy apps, you'd probably want an option to hide all trial and paid apps automatically from the store.
  3. New apps - This is one of the things that Google's Chrome Web Store lacks of as well. There is no indication of new apps in the store. If you want to find out what's new, you need to browse to the category that you are interested in, and click through to see if you can identify the new apps among the old. Why is there no new group or category, or a new filter available? Microsoft, look at the Mozilla Add-ons store to see how this is implemented well. The same goes for app versions and updates. Is there a way to see if an app has been updated if you have not installed it? Maybe you have installed it once, noticed that it has an error, removed it again and decided to try it later again when it has received an update?Update: Each category listing has a sort by newest option, but there is no option to sort all apps by newest.
  4. Language filter - The store in its current form displays apps that are written in a language that is not the system's default language. While you see lots of English apps in the store, you will also spot French, Chinese or German apps in the store with no apparent option to filter those out.
  5. Confusing top lists - When you open a top list of apps, you will see them all lumped together on the screen with no apparent ordering system behind it. Apps are not sorted by rating which would be an obvious choice. Maybe they are sorted by number of downloads, but it is not clear if that's the case. It is also not clear if top apps are listed by row, or column, or another order.
  6. Colors - Apps are displayed in their dominating colors, which does not really make that much sense as this is not something that users consider when selecting apps. It would make more sense to give every app category its own distinct color, and use these colors instead.
  7. Scrolling - Hiding the scroll bar after some time may make the page look prettier, but it also remove a visual indicator on the page. The user needs to move the mouse cursor or touch the screen to display the scrollbar again. Also, why is there no automatic scrolling when you move the mouse cursor to the right end of the screen.
  8. Search - Why is there no search in the store? While you can search for apps using the Metro search functionality, you can't select search in the store directly (or if you can, I have not found the switch or option to do just that). An option to just start typing like on the Metro start page would resolve the issue right away.
  9. Lots of whitespace - I get it. If you are working with touch, you need reasonably large icons to tap on to activate. But desktop PCs do not have those requirements. Why are there only eight and a half icons visible on a 1366x768 screen? It does not really make that much sense to me, as it means more scrolling to see all the available apps and categories.

Closing Words

The Consumer Preview is not the final version of the operating system, and as thus, the store is not final as well. It is likely that we will see changes being made to the store in the next release (release candidate or RTM). I personally would love to see a layout that is more suitable for desktop PCs. Maybe offer app listings instead of those bright colorful boxes, just like you can change the icon view mode in Explorer to list view.

Microsoft needs to work on the Windows store layout, as it simple does not work well. It is in many regards similar to Chrome's Web Store, which for me personally, does not work at all as well. The store simply does not give me the sorting options that I want, and while that is great for the top apps and first apps listed in each category, it means that a lot of apps won't get the visibility that they deserve.

I'd also like to see an app of the day group which highlights a great app or day prominently in the store.

Have you tested the store yet? If so, what's your take on it?


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  1. Bled said on April 16, 2012 at 11:20 am


    “I’d also like to see an app of the day group which highlights a great app or day prominently in the store.”

    What do you think the SPOTLIGHT section is for? Give MS some time, its preview stuff.

  2. Yash Maheshwari said on April 16, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Wow man, that’s like saying “The bugs should be fixed before the official release”.
    It is preview after all?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      I’m sorry but those are not bugs. It is how the store currently looks like, and about the things that I think need to be fixed before launch.

  3. Dougle said on April 15, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    The store is not something I’d personally use, there again, I have no use for Metro applications on the desktop. I imagine tablets/Windows Phone 8 will be a different prospect. That aside, it does have search and basic filters.

    When in the store, bring up the Charms bar an select search. Any hits found will be shown as recommendations, if nothing is found you’re taken to an additional search screen based on category, price and relevance. .

    In some ways the store will make or break Metro.

    1. ilev said on April 16, 2012 at 8:42 am

      “The store is not something I’d personally use”…

      You won’t be able to side load Metro applications outside the store, just like with Apple.

  4. joe said on April 15, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Silly article, most of your points are wrong. The big ones:
    –You can zoom out (ctrl+scroll wheel) to see all of the categories
    –There’s a “New apps” section under spotlight, which you can’t see right now because there are no new apps (apps aren’t getting published yet, however, there are thousands waiting in the wings, we’ll probably see them around RC period)
    –No search? Seriously? You can search the marketplace from anywhere in the OS. Pull up the charms bar, click search, type your search phrase, then click “Store” on the list on the side.

    Finally, stop judging an OS based on a limited preview.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 15, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      1. You can zoom out (ctrl+scroll wheel) to see all of the categories

      Good, a control in the store to do that would be useful.

      2. There’s a “New apps” section under spotlight, which you can’t see right now because there are no new apps (apps aren’t getting published yet, however, there are thousands waiting in the wings, we’ll probably see them around RC period)

      Good that they are going to fix it.

      3. No search

      I did mention that in the article. I would still prefer a search in the store.

      I’m judging the Windows 8 Consumer Preview based on the Consumer Preview. I’m not judging the final product. If you think the store is fine as it is now, good for you. Please respect the opinion of others like I respect yours.

  5. ilev said on April 15, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    “Microsoft needs to work on the Windows store layout” ?
    With just 80 applications for Win8 it doesn’t matter what the store’s layout look like , and by October there won’t be much more than that.

  6. Sid said on April 15, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    I can’t agree more – your article nails every point. Right now, the Store looks, works & feels nothing more than an “experiment”, which is not even clearly defined in its objectives. And there is talk of Win8 “GA” sometime around October 2012!
    My honest feeling is, even if MS manages to fix the Store & all other aspects in which CP is lacking, Win8 will not be a success as compared to Win7. IMO, only consolation might be that it will not be as bad a nightmare as WinVista.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 15, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      I feel the same way right now. They may be able to turn it around, for instance when they install a killswitch to disable Metro / re-enable the start menu. I do not think a lot of companies want to spend that much time training their staff to learn all the new things the OS has to offer. Well, the RC will tell us more.

  7. Jerko Cilas said on April 15, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    you can search the store afaik by pushing the search button on keyboard and choosing the search type “store”.

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