Ina Fried

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Microsoft Promises Windows Store Will Offer “A Bigger Bite of the Apple”

Microsoft is set to offer more information later on Tuesday about the app marketplace that will be built into Windows 8.

Windows watchers might also get an update on just when to expect a full-fledged beta of the software. An early technical preview was released at the company’s Build developer conference in September.

AllThingsD will have live coverage of the event starting just before 4 pm PT.

In the meantime, check out our story from earlier this week, as well as from when Microsoft first debuted Windows 8 at our D9 event in June.

And now, the Windows 8 store event:

4:02 pm: Folks are still milling about. Guessing start time will be closer to 4:15.

4:08 pm: The event is at a swank Mission District art gallery, a perfect spot for those aspiring to hipness.

4:13 pm: Still waiting, though there are plenty of vegetarian crepes and chicken empanadas if anyone is hungry.

4:17 pm: Still no people on stage, though I do count five laptops.

Windows President Steven Sinofsky and Windows Web Services VP Antoine Leblond are on hand.

4:25 pm: We’ve been given the five-minute warning. (I threatened to call it the first Windows 8 delay if things don’t start soon.)

4:30 pm: Things are kicking off, with Leblond taking the stage.

4:31 pm: Leblond says he has five things to talk about: The store’s design, reach, business model, transparent terms for accepting apps and the economics.

“We’re going to give you a bigger bite of the apple,” Leblond said, promising the best economics of any app store.

4:33 pm: Leblond is recapping what Microsoft has said about Windows 8 — it works on ARM and x86 chips, small and big computers. “It’s the biggest and most significant developer opportunity ever,” he promises.

4:35 pm: Key difference will be that Windows Store will offer free trials. “The best advertisement for your app will be the app itself,” Leblond says.

Leblond

4:38 pm: Demo time. So far, it’s the expected, with things like “top rated,” “top paid,” “top free,” “top new releases” and “rising stars.”

First partner mentioned is Disney, which is bringing its online books and magazines to Windows 8. I’ve also seen tiles for Evernote and Wordament, a Boggle-like game previously made for Windows Phone.

4:42 pm: A demo shows the game Cut the Rope being converted from trial to paid without out a second download and with the user’s place being saved.

4:43 pm: “We’re super excited to have this app on Windows,” Leblond says, adding that the Windows version, unlike Android and iOS versions, was all written in HTML5 and JavaScript. ‘You can build hardcore games using these technologies,” Leblond says.

4:46 pm: Windows Store apps will be able to be deep-linked to, and will show up in search engines, Leblond says. Also, the new version of Internet Explorer, IE10, which will be built into Windows 8, will add a button to the browser for apps that are in the Windows Store.

“Apps aren’t just locked inside the store,” Leblond says.

4:48 pm: Leblond is trying to make the case for the scale of Windows, noting there are 1.25 billion PCs on the planet.

“It’s a ridiculously huge number,” he says, noting it exceeds the count of cars on the planet.

He adds that there will be 400 million new x86 PCs in the next 12 months. Of course, for developers, the key will be the number of Windows 8 machines.

Leblond is now comparing Windows numbers to Apple and Android numbers, using sales over the last two years. “Apples to apples to apples,” he says.

Microsoft has shipped 500 million Windows PCs since Windows 7 shipped, compared with 247 million Android devices, 152 million iOS devices and 30 million Macs. “The reach of Windows is just so much bigger,” he says, noting that all of those rivals combined don’t add up to the number of Windows machines sold. “That’s what you get to participate in by developing Metro-style Windows apps.”

4:54 pm: Getting a demo now of the Chinese store, with an app from Renren that uses various touch gestures.

Windows 8 store china

4:55 pm: Leblond: We will localize the store in all the languages Windows is localized in, (more than 100) payment mechanisms in 230 markets. In the top 40 markets, we will have local pricing and will pay developers in 20 different currencies.

4:57 pm: Next, Microsoft is showing how the store works with enterprise apps.

5:01 pm: Enterprise apps can apparently be used without going through the store. But, according to Microsoft’s past statements, all other Metro apps have to be sold through the app store. Not clear if that has changed or if there is only an exception for IT-deployed apps.

5:02 pm: On to business model talk. Rivals have too many constraints, Leblond says, pointing specifically to how Apple stands between publishers and their customers and takes 30 percent.

“We’re going to take a different approach,” Leblond says. There will be mechanisms for in-app purchases and trial apps built into the store, but you won’t have to use them if you don’t want to, Leblond says.

5:04 pm: Demo of Animoto, a video editing and production app with a mix of free tools and those that require upgrading to a paid version.

5:08 pm: Next demo shows a publisher, the Daily Telegraph, able to handle its own subscription back end using its authentication and purchasing mechanisms (something Apple doesn’t allow).

“It’s not an app you could have on the iPad,” Leblond says — at least not without giving Apple a cut and using their authentication and payment mechanisms.

Next example is eBay, which uses PayPal for payment.

5:12 pm: Next up is Wordament, an example of an ad-supported app. Developers are free to choose whichever ad platform they want, Microsoft says.

5:14 pm: Leblond is on to the process Microsoft will use for approving apps. Leblond says there are two extremes, the Android Market with virtually no checks ahead of launch; and Apple, with its stringent, sometimes opaque processes.

Methinks Microsoft is going to position itself in between. Yep, so says Leblond.

To do that, Microsoft will offer developers the tools Microsoft will use to check their code. “It is the same checks that we are going to use.” Microsoft showed some of this at its Build conference in September. Developers can see where they are in the process, including time estimates on how long each stage typically changes.

Microsoft will also offer developers some download and sales stats, and other usage information, including how often one’s app has crashed and where those crashes are occurring. “We’re going to show you all that stuff,” Leblond says.

5:18 pm: We’re still waiting for the big question — just what cut Microsoft plans to take.

Here we go.

Leblond said the goal was to return the most money to developers. Pricing can be from $1.49 to $999.99. “A thousand bucks is just too much for an app,” he says.

Microsoft will start out with taking a 30 percent cut, but Redmond’s cut will drop to 20 percent as soon as the app makes $25,000 from sales and in-app purchases .

Google’s Chrome Web Store, though, takes just 5 percent.

Apple, meanwhile, gets a 30 percent cut for its Mac and iOS app stores.

5:25 pm: Store will debut with a beta of Windows 8 in late February 2012. Free apps only at first. App submissions will be by invite only, it says.

“We want great apps, and we want great apps in our store,” Leblond said, wrapping up the event.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik