Microsoft is betting everything on the successful release of Windows 8 later this month. But Microsoft might soon realize one of the most important lessons about attracting mobile consumers: if there aren’t any good apps, people won’t bother buying whatever you’re selling.
Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have hundreds of thousands of apps for consumers to choose from. However, both stores have had about five years to grow. Since Microsoft only really started its app store earlier this year, it’s no surprise that it’s lagging behind its competitors.
But the gap between the Windows Store and everyone else might be insurmountable. Currently, both the Google Play store and the Apple Store have about 700,000 apps. The Windows Store, meanwhile just reached its 2,000 app milestone last week.
Granted, that number is expected to climb by several thousand by the time Windows 8 is released later this month, on October 26. However, some are questioning if Windows 8 will have enough apps to win over consumers.
If you’ve used previous versions of Windows, then you might have never downloaded an app in your life. Why would you need to suddenly start downloading apps in Windows 8, you might ask? To answer that question, you need to know which version of Windows 8 you’re using:
Full version of Windows 8
You don’t have to download apps onto the full version of Windows 8. You can run all normal Windows programs with Windows 8, which means your old software should easily transfer. The tiled ‘Metro’ interface will still be accessible, allowing you to download whatever Windows 8 apps you want. But many users will be perfectly happy to use the Windows programs they’ve grown accustomed to on Windows 7.
Windows RT and Windows Phone 8
Users of the Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT operating systems will depend heavily on the Windows Store for content. Windows 8 apps are the only programs that will run on these operating systems, and a lack of content in the app store could frustrate early adopters. After all, what’s the point of spending several hundred dollars on a new phone or tablet, only to find out that it’s missing some of the world’s best apps?
Windows RT devices will generally cost less than devices which run the full version of Windows 8. For example, the Surface RT is expected to cost about half as much as the Surface Pro. Microsoft’s OEMs, including companies like Asus, Acer, and Samsung, have also announced various Windows RT tablets.
If users of these tablets and smartphones can’t download the apps they need, then the Microsoft Surface and other Windows 8 tablets could end up like the Blackberry PlayBook, HP Touchpad, and other failed devices.
The Windows Store isn’t a total dead zone. There are still plenty of useful apps currently available to download. Here are some of the most notable apps currently available in the Windows Store:
-Antivirus apps from Kaspersky and Norton
-Games like Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope
While these apps are useful, it’s more significant to look at the apps that aren’t available in the Windows Store. According to this article by PCWorld.com, the Windows Store does not yet have official apps from several major developers. Facebook and Twitter have not yet developed an official app for Windows 8. Dropbox, CNN, IMDB, and ESPN haven’t designed apps either.
Users of other smartphones and tablets depend on these apps every day. The fact that the Windows store doesn’t have them could play a significant role in the success of Windows 8 phones and the Microsoft Surface, not to mention the dozens of other Windows 8 devices being released by Microsoft’s hardware partners.
In order for any console, smartphone, tablet, or operating system to be successful, it helps to have a “killer app”. A killer app is something that makes users buy your device simply because they want to access a particular program. The Xbox has Halo, for example, and the Game Boy had Pokemon Red and Blue.
Unfortunately, beyond Microsoft Office, Windows 8 simply doesn’t have a killer app…yet. The Spotlight section of the Windows Store sums up the reason why Microsoft is having so much trouble. A section like this is expected to showcase some of the best apps available today. Unfortunately, the Spotlight section of the Windows Store is currently displaying apps like “Disk Falcon” and “Periodic Table.” Do those sound like fun apps to you?
If that is really the best that the Windows Store has to offer, then consumers might not be too impressed with Windows 8. In any case, we’ll be able to see exactly what the general public thinks of Windows 8 when it gets released later this month. Look for Windows 8 and Windows 8 tablets to start appearing in stores on October 26.