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Microsoft seeks to woo developers with Windows 8 store

Goes live in February, suggesting 2012 OS launch

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Microsoft is looking to woo application developers to its Windows 8 software store with more flexible licensing than usual, and a purported larger user base.

Speaking at an event in San Francisco, Antoine Leblond, vice president of Windows Web Services, said that Microsoft would allow developers much greater flexibility than other stores, including in-game purchasing, subscriptions, and free applications supported by advertising. In addition, once an application has generated more than $25,000 worth of revenue, Microsoft will cut its commission from the industry standard 30 per cent to 20 per cent.

Microsoft is also clearly making a play for the online publication market with the store. It gave the example of the Daily Telegraph, which can include its own payment engine in the online reader and thus pay Microsoft nothing to sell its product, as opposed to handing over 30 per cent of revenues to Apple.

“We’ll give you a bigger bite of the apple, sorry, bit of a joke. But Windows will give you the best offers out there. This is the biggest and most significant developer opportunity ever,” he said.

Applications can be free, or cost between $1.49 and $999.99, with anything more expensive not worth buying, he said – although try buying SQL Server at that price. Developers will pay $49 per year, or $99 for companies, to use the store. At launch, the store will sell apps in 100 languages and 231 national markets, with developers having their choice of 20 different currencies for its lucre.

Redmond made much of its huge market potential, pointing out that the installed base for Windows 8-capable OS systems is around 500 million machines, more than all the competition put together. This may be factually correct, but for those applications built around a touch interface, Windows is very much the minnow in a pool of Great Whites.

The store will go live as a beta in February, at the same time as the Windows 8 beta release. The timing adds to speculation that the new operating system will be released to manufacturers in 2012.

Microsoft also is running a competition among developers for the best apps for the launch, and the winning authors will get top placement on the site, a tablet running Windows 8 (like those handed out at this year’s Build), a year of Azure hosting and two years free use of the market. ®

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