Who will use the Windows 8 app store? That was the first question that came to my mind when Microsoft announced that its newest operating system would ship with an integrated store. Back then, I could not really think of many users. Sure, Windows RT users would use the app store because they only have that option, as they would not be able to install desktop application.
But Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro users? Why would they turn to the app store and not to desktop apps? The app store offers some advantages: touch support, auto-updating apps so that you will never run into situations where old program versions are run on your system for an extended period of time, or security checks for apps that get released to it.
I have been running a weekly series over at Betanews that looks at the best applications for Windows 8 that have been released in a week for almost a year now, and have monitored the store, its app, and its general development closely.
The application growth seems to have plateaued in the past month, with only about 500 new apps being released to store each week. That's not a lot, and while you will still find a couple of quality apps each week, it is clear that the store is not as popular as Microsoft hoped it would be.
It is not that popular for developers, as other platforms are more attractive at the time. It is a numbers game and both Android and iOS are the two attractive options, with Windows Phone or Windows 8 following in third place. You will get better exposure on Windows 8 though, due to the limited number of apps that get released for the platform, while your great app for iOS or Android may very well be overlooked due to the sheer number of apps that get released for these platforms.
It is also not that popular for users. I base this solely on the number of reviews and ratings that apps receive in the store. Microsoft has not really revealed any numbers in recent time in regards to Store and apps usage.
Back to the initial question: Why is the store not popular?
How can Microsoft turn the situation around? I can think of several solutions, and Microsoft seems to already work on some of them.
While this will make the platform more popular overall, it takes time to do so. Plus, it does not really address the underlying issue that desktop users face who do not see many reasons to use it in first place. Great apps and games may change that, so that it is being used like Steam for example to play certain types of games or apps.
The one thing that would help the most in my opinion would be to merge the two interfaces into one. So that users can run all apps and games on the desktop without restrictions in regards to window size or position.
It will be interesting to see how Microsoft copes with the situation. The company has started to implement several of the solutions that I have suggested above, and while it will take anywhere from a couple of months to years before users will notice the effect, it is the right thing to tackle right now.
What's your take on the whole Windows 8 store issue? Are you running W8 and using it? Or do you ignore it largely?
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