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Prepare for the Windows 8 app onslaught

Despite disappointing initial sales, Windows 8's early numbers may be good news for Microsoft after all. Now that the install base of Windows 8 is already in the millions, developers are going to come flocking.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched numerous people try to analyze what little solid information is available regarding Windows 8’s initial sales. Microsoft made an announcement a few weeks back claiming that it sold 40 million licenses in the operating system’s first month, and that first-month sales were better than Windows 7’s during its launch. While that all sounds good on the surface, Windows 8 was deeply discounted in comparison to Windows 7 and that number accounts for mostly licenses sold to partners, not consumers who actually went out and bought copies of Windows 8 or new Windows 8-based PCs.

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Since that initial announcement Microsoft has been relatively silent on the matter, forcing analysts to decipher a myriad of other indicators in an attempt to gauge Windows 8’s relative success (or failure). The consensus seems to be that Window 8 has not given the PC market a boost, but that it hasn’t hurt it either. Expectations are that Windows 8 isn’t selling at quite the same pace as Windows 7, which has many in a state of panic. I say it’s too early to claim failure or success; Microsoft is in this one for the long haul and the whole story won’t be told for years. Windows 8 is the first step in the transformation of Windows from a desktop OS to a ubiquitous one installed on many different kinds of devices, but that’s a topic for another post.

In all of the early noise regarding initial sales, it seems to me that everyone is forgetting what an install base of tens of millions is going to do for Windows 8 app development. Many developers approached Windows 8 with trepidation in the build up to its launch. But, whatever the sales figures look like relative to other platforms or versions of Windows, the fact remains that in a few short months there’s likely to be an install base over 100 million. And that spells opportunity.

The bottom line is there are tens of millions more Windows 8 licenses out in the wild today than there were a couple of months ago. And that number is going to grow significantly each month for the foreseeable future, even if it’s not at the same rate of its predecessor. I think that’s going to make the Windows Store an incredibly attractive place for app developers. There’s no denying that the iOS and Android app ecosystems are exponentially larger and more diverse at this point in time, but that also means that it’s much more difficult for a developer to get his app noticed. Consistent growth of Windows 8’s install base and the newness of the Windows Store are going to entice many more app developers to dive in, relatively quickly. Just wait and see.

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