With the impending release of Windows 8, all eyes are on the new Windows Store, Microsoft’s walled garden for Metro apps. Apparently there aren’t that many of them, though – only around 2,000 at launch, with new submissions leveling out already. As Bill Reis points out, this is less than the number of Windows 8 tablets Microsoft gave away at BUILD. He identifies a number of possible causes, including the learning curve for the new WinRT API, poor sales on the old Windows Phone Marketplace, and Microsoft’s seeming hostility towards its developers.
Frans Bouma has something to say on that last point. His attempt to sign up for the Windows Store reveals an incredibly convoluted Kafkaesque procedure, full of absurd rules and needless delays, even though he just wanted to post links to desktop applications. You should definitely read his post if you think about publishing on the Windows Store. Also note Kevin Daley’s story whose attempt to register for the Windows Store resulted in the wholesale destruction of his payment data across all Microsoft services…
Despite such difficulties, former Microsoftie Hal Berenson is convinced that Windows 8 will win by default, whether through the sheer volume of preinstallations on new PCs or its unique ability to run Office on tablets. Those are good points, but one should never underestimate the capacity of arrogant companies to self-destruct – “we’re too big to fail” is what Sony thought when they released the PlayStation 3. Berenson added an interesting retrospective on Steven Sinofsky’s strategic decisions for Windows 8:
You may recall from other sources that Steven Sinofsky has never been known to be a .NET fan. While others within Microsoft, and even senior people in the (pre-Windows 8) Windows organization, wanted to move to an entirely .NET app model for Windows Steven did not. He (and others fyi) wanted to re-engage the native code C++ developers that Microsoft had been neglecting. And they wanted to co-opt the huge base of web developers to create apps for the Windows platform. Well, what had the Windows Phone guys done? They’d implemented a .NET only app platform. Could the Windows Phone app platform evolve to address the native and web developers? Sure. But with no existing library of apps and a desire not to have .NET-centric platform at the core of Windows Sinofsky apparently felt pretty comfortable ignoring the Windows Phone team’s work.
And so Microsoft deliberately alienates its large base of loyal and locked-in .NET client developers, hoping to gain a larger base of C++ and web developers instead. So far that strategy doesn’t seem to have worked very well. We’ll see if this picture changes once a substantial number of Windows 8 installations exists.