Windows App Store preview – apps go to the heart of business

7 Dec 2011

Microsoft has unveiled its Windows Store as part of the countdown to Windows 8. The new store will be the prime distribution point for Metro style apps and select developers have been invited to get busy. One of interesting reveals is how enterprises can securely manage what apps are used by workers.

Microsoft yesterday demonstrated app policies and business terms – that include an 80pc revenue share for apps built for the platform.

“Combining the broad reach of Windows, a new developer platform, best-in-class developer tools, a re-imagined user experience, support for new chipsets, and a built-in store with industry-leading business terms – Windows 8 is the largest developer opportunity, ever,” said Ted Dworkin, partner programme manager for the Windows Store.

Describing the new store’s features, Microsoft’s Antoine Leblond said the new store is designed for easy app discovery and certainly some of the early images are reminiscent of the Xbox 360 dashboard in how apps are highlighted.

Windows 8 public beta tipped for February

Navigation will be consistent with the model of the forthcoming Windows 8 operating system which is, by the way, understood to be going to public beta in February. Windows 8 was opened up to developer beta in October.

The Window’s Store’s app catalogue will be incidentally indexed by web search engines, so if you need an app in a hurry, just search for it and it should be there ready to buy and download.

“The web search result will point to a web version of the app listing, which we publish based on the same content provided for the store app listing,” Leblond explained. “If you are running Windows 8, the page directs you to the store. If you don’t have Windows 8, the page says the app is available on Windows 8.

“Developers can also promote apps from their websites, not just with ‘available in the Windows Store’ logos, but with built-in promotion through Internet Explorer 10,” said Leblond.

Interestingly, in explaining how the new store will work, Microsoft revealed the existence of an “app button” on Windows 8 PCs that will take you directly to the app listing in the store or directly to the app if it’s installed.

“These design choices mean minimal distance between the user and the app listing, which is a developer’s promotional canvas.”

The Windows Store will be available in 231 markets worldwide and Microsoft previewed a rich, Metro style app in XAML and C# made by social network Renren.

The new Windows 8 platform and Windows Store can also be tailored by enterprises which can choose to limit access to the Windows Store catalogue by employees or restrict access to certain apps.

“In addition, enterprises can choose to deploy Metro style apps directly to PCs, without going through the store infrastructure. For Windows 8 Beta, IT administrators can use group policy to permit Metro style app installations, as long as the apps are signed by trusted publishers and the machines are joined to the domain. Then the IT admin can use powershell commandlets to manage those Metro style apps on Windows 8,” Leblond said.

Another example of the enterprise functionality in Windows 8 is deployment flexibility, which means IT departments can deploy apps to either managed or unmanaged devices.

“This deployment flexibility ensures that employees have software on the devices they prefer while IT can continue to manage software payloads based on their company’s needs and regulations,” Leblond said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years