The next big app market goes live on October 26th, when Microsoft releases Windows 8 to the general public. If you’re a developer, you’ll want your polished, pixel-perfect app in the Windows Store on day one. Microsoft is giving app developers early access to Windows 8 development tools and resources, and if you take advantage of the opportunity, you’ll have your Windows 8 app submitted, approved, and in front of millions of Windows 8 users who are looking to populate their brand new operating system with fun, useful, and practical apps… preferably yours.
The Windows Store will be available in 120 countries around the world, so regardless of where you or your customers are, it’s an opportunity with enormous potential and unprecedented exposure. But, the Windows Store doesn’t just appeal to customers; it favors app developers in a number of unique ways.
Clear, Concise App Requirements
While other app marketplaces have vague, subjective requirements that can often get your app rejected for unknown or unclear reasons, the Windows Store’s approval process is refreshingly simple. The certification process for your app boils down to seven sensible steps. These requirements are short, organized, and clear, making them very easy for a developer to negotiate. So, rather than designing an app primarily to pass through the approval process, you can satisfy the Windows requirements quickly and easily, which allows you to turn your attention toward making the app itself a smash hit.
Easy, Streamlined Payments
App developers are rarely accountants, and despite knowing a multitude of programming techniques, they rarely have the time or inclination to determine the tax ramifications of app sales or the effect of bank fees on profit margins. Thankfully, the Windows Store payment process has been streamlined and simplified. You don’t have to enter your bank account and tax information right away; you can focus on finishing your app and deal with payment details once you’re ready.
For those ambitious developers who are accounting masterminds and want to carefully track their app sales, the Windows Store allows developers to export detailed payment data that can be graphed, charted, or otherwise manipulated. This enables app builders to track progress and discover trends and valuable insights within their sales data.
Documentation That’s Actually Helpful
User Experience Guidelines That are Actually Usable
Many other interface guidelines (I’m not naming any names) feel less like truly helpful advice on designing an intuitive user experience and more like a long set of mandated laws. The Windows Store UX guidelines are helpful enough that you’ll probably never need to go elsewhere to ebooks, websites, podcasts, or tutorials, which is more than can be said for the vast majority of app marketplaces. The guidelines cover navigation patterns, help with migrating a web-based or iOS app to Windows 8, and interface advice for specific app categories like news apps, productivity apps, and games.
No Fees to Get Started
To publish an app in most marketplaces, you have to pay an annual fee, which usually makes for one more unpleasant barrier to building your next big success. But, if you sign up for a Microsoft BizSpark account, you’ll get a Windows Store developer account at no charge whatsoever. It is a little painful to pay fees before you put your first few pixels together, and thankfully Microsoft removed that unappealing first step from the journey.
These kinds of thoughtful, developer-friendly accommodations—combined with the vast customer potential of the Windows platform—are likely going to make Windows 8 a very popular platform for users and developers alike, and Microsoft has created a marketplace that’s ripe for a symbiotic, mutually-beneficial relationship between builders and users of Windows 8 apps. I’d suggest signing up for BizSpark, downloading the SDK, and getting started right away. Beat those late adopters to the punch!