Why You Might Want to Hold Off Developing Apps for Windows 8

Windows 8

Microsoft executives have spent the past year and a half promoting Windows 8’s app store, in the hope that third-party developers would create a thriving ecosystem of games and productivity software.

What’s the result of all that time and energy? As InfoWorld relates in a new posting, some 150,000 apps currently reside in the Windows Store—not a very impressive number, when you consider the number of Windows devices currently on the market, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of apps available for Apple’s iOS, Google Android, and other mobile platforms out there.

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InfoWorld cites data from MetroStore Scanner that suggests a declining number of new applications are posting to the Windows Store, with only a few thousand new titles appearing every month. If that’s accurate, Microsoft doesn’t exactly have momentum on its side, either.

Why aren’t developers stumbling over themselves to develop apps for Windows?

Think about it from a cost-benefit perspective: Why would you expend the time and resources building for a platform that lags well behind its competitors? Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 own 11.3 percent of the desktop market, according to the latest data from Net Applications; meanwhile, data from research firm Gartner suggests that Windows 8’s share of the tablet market in 2013 hovered at a paltry 2.1 percent. If you’re a mobile developer looking for exposure and profit, there are certainly greener pastures out there.

One could make the argument that, with fewer apps, Windows Store gives smaller developers a better chance of standing out in what’s becoming a very crowded environment. The only problem is, making that argument the centerpiece of a marketing push won’t necessarily succeed; BlackBerry attempted something similar a few years back, with executives telling every developer within earshot that apps posted to BlackBerry’s sparse app store made more money (on average) than equivalents on iOS and Android—but that didn’t stop the platform’s slow-motion implosion.

Instead, Microsoft’s best hope might hinge on increasing Windows 8’s adoption. The company’s already taken a major step in that direction by offering Windows licenses for free to manufacturing partners who install the operating system on devices with screens smaller than nine inches. With increased adoption, developers might give Windows apps a second look; but for many of those with relatively few resources to spare, it could take some clear signs that Microsoft is on the upswing before they commit.

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Image: Microsoft

3 Responses to “Why You Might Want to Hold Off Developing Apps for Windows 8”

  1. Balachander Agoramurthy

    Hi Nick, I am Bala and am visually impaired. I am a software engineer and a Project Manager. I am using screen reader / screen magnification software on Windows and am proud to say that I am able to make my daily bread only because of MSFT. As is, none of the other OSes provide such support for people like me; I am able to develop applications, manage projects, and do several things on a daily basis without anybody’s help. Also, I just bought a Lumia 1520 phone and am able to use it without issues. I figured out that Android does not provide such accessibility features and am ashamed that people adore such discriminating software in the market. I am really offended by this news and I feel that such news will disuade developers from developing apps for Windows and kill the OS. I request the Dice news team not to publish such biased articles in the news anymore. Thank you. Bala (bala1964@hotmail.com; in.linkedin.com/in/balachanderagoramurthy)

  2. Nick Kolakowski

    Hi Bala,

    I’m glad that you’ve had such a positive experience with Microsoft and Windows. If you ever consider developing for Mac OS X, they offer some great accessibility tools such as screen magnification, dictation, invert colors, and much more; there are also some effective magnification apps you can download for Linux off download depositories such as SourceForge. I’ve also heard that Google has integrated magnification features starting with Google Android 4.2, should you choose to explore that option at some point.

    I appreciate your concern regarding developers possibly being dissuaded from developing apps for Windows, but I don’t think Windows is going away anytime soon. Despite the third-party data describing Windows 8’s slow adoption (and relatively slow app uptake), many businesses and consumers continue to rely on the platform.

    Thanks for writing in!