Monday 7 December 2009

Why there is no app store on Windows

How long does it take to install Microsoft Office? Well, first you have to order it, and then you have to wait for it to arrive by mail, on a physical medium. Ever wondered why there is no app store on Windows?

Steve Ballmer explains it in an article on CNET: "nobody has any trouble getting apps"

I'm obviously nobody, so there must be another reason. Here is my best guess: An app store on Windows would be a target of regulation by authorities, and this would make it hard for Microsoft to design the app store in a way, that makes Microsoft applications the obvious choice for Windows users. Microsoft seems to take it for granted, that the alternative to getting an app on Windows, is to get the app on another PC that does not run Windows. For many Windows software vendors, it has always been the rule of thumb, that the user picks the application first, and the OS next - but...

as Ballmer puts it: "The whole Internet is designed basically for the Windows PC."

So, why is everyone excited about "app stores" like in Ubuntu, iPhone, Playstation, Android etc.? Ballmer explains it this way:

Ballmer: " need so many apps in a mobile app store is to remap Web sites that were written for the PC to look good on a mobile phone..."

Seen from a marketing point of view, there is no doubt that brands, that made it well on the web, like Facebook, are also good for marketing app stores. However, most of the apps that I downloaded from an app store, have either used the built-in GPS, used the built-in camera, improved the phones user interface, saved phone bill costs or interacted with other apps on the phone, like the contacts database. Nothing of this can be done from a web app.

Since Microsoft does not seem to be motivated for an app store, what about Google, Oracle/Sun and IBM? However, they do everything they can to make Windows substitutable, and do not have an interest in creating an app store for Windows. Sun was discussing a Java app store, but that doesn't really solve the problem. Creating an Open Source app store has 2 problems: Lack of accountability and lack of wide deployment. The app store needs to be very widely deployed in order to be attractive - you cannot ask people to download and install an app store, it needs to be there automatically, maybe as part of something else (like bundling with a browser).

There seems to be no reason to expect a Windows app store any time soon.


m! said...

Well there is actually app store for windows, it's called Steam (
Sure, it sells only games, but the idea is there.

Popa Adrian Marius said...

it's interesting where ubuntu is headed , they got the apple store model and it's enabled by default in next versions of ubuntu

for example by default i can install flamerobin from that app store but i guess in the future we will see more comercial apps too

Warren said...

" need so many apps in a mobile app store is to remap Web sites that were written for the PC to look good on a mobile phone..."

Is Ballmer really this dumb? No he isn't. He's speaking to a context, I think, and in that context, I think he's spinning things his way, considering that a large number of apps for iPhone and Palm Pre, were in fact "web reformats".

He's ignoring the real App Store (in iTunes), and spreading disinformation, because really, the App Store micro-software-payment model is not a good fit for Microsoft's core software business, which is for applications in the price range $99-$999, whereas the App Store is all about Impulse Purchases of mini-apps, something Microsoft is not geared for, or all that interested in.

Imagine for a moment, "Honest Ballmer" locked Steve in the Basement, and took his place for a day:

"...Microsoft can not make as much money by taking 10% of your $3.99 app that plays a guitar-hero knockoff game on your touch-screen PDA phone, as we can selling operating systems and large office software suites, which cost a hundred or two hundred times as much. We employ more people to sweep our floors than Apple has developers. So let them go after the ninety-nine cent market, and mop up the scrap few hundred million dollars here and there that we overlooked, and we'll go after the sixty-billion dollar market instaed. Mmmkay?".

Now I don't like Ballmer much. But you gotta like their position in the battle, if you're a betting man. Everyone keeps talking (few more than me) about how Microsoft is heading for a fall, but they're neither beat, nor even down, at the moment.

(Someone please prove me wrong. I'd love it.)


Warren said...

Oh yes, and Honest Ballmer just whispered something else in my ear:

"... also remember, that we tried this already, and in Microsoft fashion, failed to comprehend what it was we were doing, and failed. We posted the following note about it:

Windows Marketplace has transitioned from an ecommerce site to a reference site.
[We failed. Surprise.]

You will find links to sites such as Microsoft Store, Windows Vista® Compatibility Center, and other destinations with cool and compatible software, hardware and devices that support Microsoft® platforms.

[Windows Marketplace sucked, get over it.]



Anonymous said... Microsoft is run by people with no clue. What else is new?