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Microsoft throws open Windows Store to all developers

Let a thousand not-Metro apps bloom

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Microsoft has fully opened its Windows Store doors to all developers ahead of the October 26 launch of its new operating system, after a beta program that began in February.

"Today’s an especially great day to be a developer," said Microsoft's Antoine Leblond, head of its web services operation. "The Store is now open for app submissions from all developers – individuals and companies – in our supported markets, and we’ve added 82 more app submission markets! Now, developers from 120 markets can publish Windows Store apps."

All paid MSDN subscribers will receive a free one-year Windows Store subscription (regular price $49 per year, or $99 for companies) and Students on Redmond's DreamSpark program can get a free account, too. Applications pricing runs from free to $999.99, since software isn’t apparently worth buying if it costs more than that – something the Windows Server 2012 Datacenter team would be surprised to learn.

The success or otherwise of Windows 8 is going to be built around applications, and Redmond's cutting the major software houses some slack by reducing its commission from the industry-standard 30 per cent to 25 per cent for any app selling more than $25,000 in a year. In return it gets tight control over what APIs can be used and reserves the right to pull apps remotely if it sees fit.

Microsoft's been touting all sorts of numbers for the potential market for Windows 8 applications – some believable, others not so much. Given the shared code between Phone 8 and the new operating system, Microsoft will also need to get mobile developers onboard fast if the Windiws 8 is going to get close to the appeal of Mac OS X, Android, or even BlackBerry.

The fact remains that Windows 8's biggest strength is in the tablet and touchscreen laptop space. While LeBlond may be predicting that such devices will outsell PCs as early as next year, manufacturers like Dell are more cautious about their immediate appeal to enterprise customers. The initial buyers of the new OS will largely be the consumer market – and that means lots of applications that people will use and, hopefully, pay for.

As El Reg has pointed out, the Windows 8 application cupboard is looking quite bare at the moment and Microsoft will be hoping for a busy seven weeks before the launch. ®

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