Windows 8: A New Store for Metro AppsBy Trishna ,Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Aren’t there enough stores already? Apparently not, since they are still popping up over the place. It has reached to such ridiculous proportions that it is possible that nearly every other app you have installed is coming from a different store. Those using Apple devices have it easy in this regard. There is the restriction of just one store. With Windows 8, it is a little more complicated. In a way it is restricted to just one store, and in other ways, not so much. Perhaps it will get clearer as you read ahead.
The Windows Store
The Windows Store isn’t just a hypothetical-product-that-the-next-version-of-Windows-might-ship any more; it is already available in the consumer preview of Windows 8. So you can install that and try it for yourself. Windows 8 features Microsoft’s own store that finally gives Windows users a unified store front for buying applications. But oh, it doesn’t even do that fully. No, you can only purchase what they call “Metro” applications from the store.
In fact, not only are Metro apps the only kind of applications available on the Windows Store, they are exclusive to it. What we mean is that you cannot buy Metro applications from anywhere other than the Windows Store; and likewise the Windows Store features only Metro applications. But what are Metro applications? Let’s find out.
Windows 8 has an entirely new interface, but that isn’t just skin deep. It has a lot of changes down to the very core that enable these new kinds of applications to run. Right now you have a different version of Windows for Phones, Window Phone 7, and a different one for desktops and laptops, Windows 7. With Windows 8, you will have the same Windows running on both tablets and desktops / laptops. In fact, Windows Phone 8 will be a close relative of Windows 8, which makes it easier for those making applications to create software for phones and PCs.
These are the new Windows 8 metro applications, those full screen tile based applications, the kind of we see on Windows Phone 7 right now. The look and feel of Windows Metro applications is just to make them touch-friendly and consistent on tablets and PCs.
Back to the Store
So here is what we know so far, Windows 8 has a new kind of applications called Metro applications. They will only be available on the Windows Store. And finally the Windows Store will only stock Windows Metro applications. In fact, the Windows Store itself is a Metro application that will come pre-installed with Windows.
So, you won’t be able to buy complex software such as entire antivirus suites or software like Photoshop. The Windows Store will have games but don’t expect to buy the next “Total War” or “The Witcher” release from there. It will have simpler games like the kind you find online, don’t expect it to replace Steam. This also means that the Windows Store will not be available for Windows 7 and earlier versions. This does not, however, mean that old style Windows applications won’t work with Windows 8, they will, at least on PCs. You just will not be able to buy them from the Windows Store.
For the old-school applications, you have your old-school methods of finding and installing applications. Which is through Google search and a random assortment of stores and individual sites.
Apps, Licenses and Accounts
As expected, the Windows Store will have both free and paid applications. The paid applications, ranging from $1.5 to $999 can also offer a trial version of the app for anywhere between a single day to, well, an eternity. One good and bad thing about Windows Store apps is that they are tied to a Microsoft account. It’s bad because the only way to install Metro apps is via the Windows Store, and if you don’t have and don’t want a Microsoft account, you can’t install apps.
On the other hand, it is good because it allows you to install an application you have purchased once, on multiple other computers that run Windows 8. When we say multiple, we mean up to 5, that is the limit Microsoft deems to be appropriate without being abusive. On each computer that your app is installed on, you can use the same app on multiple user accounts as well.
Finally, like any decent store, it will keep your apps updated as the app developers release newer versions. In fact, even if a new major version of the app is released, the update will come to you for free. App developers will likely just release new major versions as a separate app instead. So there you have it, the new Microsoft Windows Store. In theory, of course. Right now as it stands, all apps are free, even paid ones, so it is hard to tell how that experience will be. How it works out in practice, of course, we will only know when the Store is fully functional.
Image by Kiwi Flickr