Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

Microsoft courts app developers to support its big aspirations for Windows Store

Microsoft is going all out to attract application developers to Windows by offering them the opportunity to earn more money than on app stores for Apple and Android, the ability to develop applications that work across smartphones, tablets and desktop as well as a chance to reach 500 million Windows users.

While the Windows Store app store was announced several months ago at the same time that Microsoft introduced the new Windows 8 operating system, many of the details were not revealed until this week. They show that Microsoft has big aspirations in the apps space even if it has some catching up to do.

?As far as I can see, Microsoft?s top priority is to establish Windows 8 as a true cross-platform operating system,? said Aapo Markkanen, London-based senior analyst for consumer mobility at ABI Research.?It wants W8 to offer more or less the same user experience in PCs, smartphones, tablets and so on.

?If this approach proves successful, it would particularly help app developers as the development times and costs for cross-platform apps could be reduced quite substantially,? he said.

?This week Microsoft also announced that it will offer a 80/20 revenue split for apps that gross a certain threshold it does stand out somewhat vs. the industry standard - 70/30 - but is not notably bold, if you ask me. Microsoft has a lot of catch-up to do in attracting developers so e.g. paying out 80 percent with no strings attached might have been a better move.?

Monetization opportunities
The new app store, which will launch in February to coincide with the Windows 8 Beta, is part of Microsoft?s strategy to make Windows 8 a cross-platform operating system.

In post on a company blog, Microsoft pointed to the money that the store will be able to generate for developers because of the 500 million users it has for Windows 7 and who can be upgraded to Windows 8 on the day it ships.

?That represents the single biggest platform opportunity available to developers,? Antoine Leblond, vice president of Web services for Windows, in the blog post.

One of the differentiators Microsoft is pointing to is the ability to create apps that will run on all Windows 8 devices, which include desktops, laptops and tablets.

With Apple, developers have to create a separate app experience for the Mac App Store.

Microsoft also said it intends to offer the best terms in the industry so that app developers make a lot more money on Windows than on any other platform.

For apps that reach 25,000 in sales, Microsoft will take only a 20 percent cut with developers keeping the remaining 80 percent. The industry standard revenue split is 70-30, which is what Apple offers and what Windows developers will receive until they reach the $25,000 sales threshold.

Fewer constraints
Microsoft also will not require developers to use its in-app purchasing features.

This could be an important differentiator for Microsoft since Apple requires developers make sales available inside an app using Apple?s tools and pay Apple 30 percent of each sale. As a result of these requirements, developers are introducing HTML5 browser-based versions of their apps so they can continue to sell subscriptions to users without having to give Apple a cut.

Already brands such as The Daily Telegraph and eBay are using Windows 8 to develop apps that enable them to retain their existing transaction platforms, according to the company.

Marketplaces that limit transaction choices can constrain certain models,? Mr. Leblond said in the blog post. ?For example, eBay is building its Windows 8 Metro style app so that it manages transactions using PayPal in the same way the eBay website currently operates?the way eBay customers would expect.?

Microsoft will also let users download free app demos so they can try an app before purchasing it.
This was a busy week for Microsoft on the mobile front with the company also introducing My Xbox Live app for iOS devices, making Microsoft?s gaming platform available to Apple devices for the first time.

Previously, only Windows Phone users could access Xbox services.

Also this week, Microsoft updated Xbox with new content channels and a Windows Phone app that works as an Xbox remote control.

Mobile is a key component of these developments but they also point to Microsoft?s focus on supporting a cross platform approach.

?Windows 8 has some key elements that are based on Windows Phone 7 ? especially the use of tiles ? which makes me think that it could work pretty well in a touchscreen mobile environment,? Mr. Markannen said. ?Compare that to for example the old Windows Mobile operating systems that were more like miniaturized desktop OS?s, and never really worked out.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York