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Bad idea: Microsoft to restrict Windows 8 app sales to its own store

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Microsoft has gone to great lengths to stress how compatible Windows 8 is with legacy applications. You can download these from any website and install them however you like, as has always been the case with Windows. However, when it comes to new Metro-style apps, Microsoft is locking it down and taking the Apple approach. All Metro-style apps will be available strictly in one store: the Windows Store and Microsoft will take 30 percent of all revenue from developers, reports Computerworld. Developers will also have to pay Microsoft a yearly fee to be a part of the Store. 

For the price, consumers will gain safety and security, argued Ted Dworkin, a Microsoft director for Windows Store, at BUILD last Wednesday. “”We will be the only store for distribution of Metro-style apps,” said Dworkin.”…We will examine every application that will be submitted to us [and] we will run a virus check and a malware check on every application.”

Microsoft gives Android the ball

While this Apple standard has become common on mobile, it means Microsoft is, once again giving Android an advantage. Though “fragmentation” has been a hot word surrounding Android, its fragmentation of app stores has as many upsides for customers as downsides. While it does pressure consumers to adopt more than one app store, like competition in retail stores, it promotes lower prices on apps and big sales. Amazon’s Appstore for Android has a new free app out every day. In addition, it means that there is more than one place to get apps. So if the Android Market is compromised for some reason, you can always buy apps elsewhere. This decentralization has the added benefit of making it more difficult for any government, corporation, or special interest from unilaterally removing an application from the world by simply pressuring Google. In the last year, we have seen Google remove tethering apps and ROMs from sections of its Market, among other categories. Services that compete with those offered by Google, Microsoft, and Apple are also served by having a competitive market of stores. Apple routinely rejects apps that compete with its core services, asking developers to be original.

Of course, we also cannot forget the issue of in-app billing that’s causing a stir in the Apple App Store. Because it has unilateral control over all apps and content on the iPhone, Apple has decided to charge app developers a 30-percent commission not just on app sales, but on the sales of anything those developers sell within their apps. So if you run a Google Bookstore, for instance, you would have to pay a 30-percent commission to Apple for each book sold. This has angered many e-book publishers, each of which will have to find some way around the fees for their business model to work. 

It’s wonderful…as an idea

The idea of one, single, beautiful place to find all of your apps is a lovely one. But just as its never good to put all of your metaphorical eggs into one basket, the same is true for apps and app stores. Without competition among them, things will not improve for developers or users in the long run. Windows was founded on an open platform. Anyone has always been able to create a Windows application, release it, and promote it. The Microsoft Windows Store is a great new idea, but if it’s the only way humanly possible to get a Windows app, that puts too much control in Redmond’s hands. 

For more opinions on Windows 8, check out our recent rundown of the new OS. Or, if you need to know what Windows 8 is and why it’s so different, check out our older piece on Windows 8 features

Jeffrey Van Camp
Former Digital Trends Contributor
As DT's Deputy Editor, Jeff helps oversee editorial operations at Digital Trends. Previously, he ran the site's…
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