Windows 8 is a game-changer in ways beyond its much-loved/-loathed tile-based interface.
As they already do with their smartphones, Win8 users will acquire many of their next applications from the Windows Store.
Living with rules at the Store
For folks who live in both worlds, Microsoft’s Windows Store might seem a knee-jerk, copycat reaction to Apple’s successful iTunes and App Store. But in fact, in one form or another, there’s been a Microsoft apps market for some time — Windows Phone Marketplace, Zune Marketplace, and Xbox Live, for example.
What’s new is Microsoft’s push for low-overhead, third-party, Metro-style apps created exclusively for Windows 8. You’ll now find many free or inexpensive applications alongside more traditional Windows apps on the Windows Store’s virtual shelves. (The Windows Store reportedly hit 70,000 apps this week.)
That number might have been considerably higher, had Microsoft not taken a page out of Apple’s playbook. As with iPhone and iPod apps sold on the App Store, Microsoft has taken firm control over which software is allowed in its Windows Store — ostensibly to guarantee user security and satisfaction. To get the OK from Microsoft, third-party app developers must follow numerous rules.
For example, Win8 app developers can offer their products only through the Windows Store. Paid apps can be priced at U.S. $1.49 and up. Apps in the Windows Store may contain ads, but they can’t exist merely to serve ads; nor can ads appear on the live Metro tile. No apps with an ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board, more info) rating higher than Mature are permitted (a subtle way of saying no sexual content or intense violence). To be listed in the Windows Store, all entries must be native Windows 8 apps, not just a shell for a website. (A Microsoft MSDN page gives all Win8 app requirements.)
Aware that user privacy has become a touchy issue, Microsoft demands that Win8 apps sending personal information to third parties must include an opt-in/-out feature — as well as a full description of how the information would be used. Apps must be bug-free; Microsoft will test the app before listing it. Apps offered in the Windows Store must natively support specific Win8 features, and they must launch in five seconds or less and uninstall just as quickly.