Microsoft Unveils the Windows Store for Apps

Details emerge on Microsoft's answer to the App Store, and developers should be happy.

Microsoft held an event in San Francisco to formally introduce the Windows Store, its online app store for Metro-style Windows 8 applications, and provided details that should make DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! happy.Like the successful App Store for Apple mobile products, the Windows Store will support both free and paid applications. Like the Windows Phone Marketplace, developers can offer free trials for apps, with the option to upgrade to the full version.Microsoft will offer its own advertising similar to iAds and in-app purchase mechanisms as options, but if developers want to go with a different ad network or its own subscription and billing system, they are free to do so.Microsoft is also trying to be a little more transparent than Apple has been with its app approval process, which shouldn't be too hard. Apps might be rejected for inconsequential reasons and developers have no way of knowing where they are in the process until they get approval or rejection.Microsoft plans to offer an App Certification Kit as part of the SDK to provide guidance into app certification policies and what developers can do to make the process smoother. Rejected apps will get feedback so they can address the issues quickly and resubmit the app for publication. There will also be an online tracker so developers can see where they are in the process.All of this information has been posted to a blog on MSDN. In addition, Microsoft has published all of its Windows Store policies for developers to read up on in advance of the store opening in February. Microsoft said the store would become available at the same time as the Windows 8 beta, and confirmed that the beta is on target for late February. Microsoft will give Windows 8 a big showing off at the Consumer Electronics Show this January when CEO Steve Ballmer gives the opening keynote.

Like Apple, Microsoft takes a 30 percent cut of application sales, but if you get a hit app, it will take less. Once an application reaches $25,000 in revenue, Microsoft's cut drops to 20 percent, which should make some angry birds a little less angry. Individual developers have to pay a mere $49 to register with Microsoft, while companies pay $99.

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