What’s the deal with counting Windows Store apps?

I’ve had a few people ask me why I started counting the number of apps. Why should I care? Do I have some sort of vendetta against Microsoft or something?

No. I don’t.

The Windows Store count is what it is. I’m not here to say it’ll trounce iOS. I’m not here to say it’ll be a failure. That doesn’t matter, and little I can or do say will change how Windows 8 does with consumers and corporate customers. My goal in counting was simply to find out what’s going on. How much interest is there among developers.

For my day job, I’m a research analyst who writes about Microsoft. I generally write about SQL Server and SharePoint, but I do write about Windows, Office, Bing, and other subjects too.

The entire Windows 8 development cycle has been largely a black box for me – and as a result, for my readers, who are IT decision makers within some very large-sized companies (that traditionally use a lot of Microsoft software). When it comes to Windows 8 and Windows RT, when you learned about things is when I learned about them (it didn’t always used to be that way). Last year at Build I had a good conversation with a friend – an IT pro – who helps drive Windows decisions within his business. He was already frustrated with the lack of transparency around Windows, and I’ve only seen his frustration grow. You have to understand, this is someone who I worked together with years ago when I was helping build Windows XP (nee Whistler) and he was helping to deploy it within a very, very large company – we had a very different method of information exchange (as Microsoft and a large corporate customer) than Windows 8, and especially Windows RT, presented to most corporate customers

So back in August, when I started thinking out loud with a friend about whether there was a way to get more insight into the state of the store, my intentions were largely to help provide my customers – predominantly corporate customers – with some insight around the Windows Store.

My readers, my co-workers, and my friends in the Microsoft IT space, need insight to help guide their careers and their IT decisions. While Windows 8 will run most/many/all (choose one) Windows 7 applications, it doesn’t include Windows XP mode, has some pretty big user interface changes, and really focuses on touch. So those are issues. But all those aside, the Windows Store then becomes a “nice to have” conversation piece.

But my readers – our customers – some of Microsoft’s most faithful fans – have held iPads at bay for some time within their organizations. For cost, power consumption, weight and many other reasons, Windows RT devices will likely be the first option considered in those scenarios. But these individuals have so little information to guide their decisions around hardware, deployment, licensing, management, etc that anything helps. For example, a friend pointed out that the first link when you Google search for “Windows RT PowerShell” is an article I wrote quite some time ago pondering whether Windows RT would even include PowerShell 3.0 (this absolutely shouldn’t be the first hit for this topic!!!). For this reason, I feel that any insight I can provide to these customers (and any other readers or potential Windows RT buyers as a result) is beneficial.

I never meant any ill will to the Windows team in pointing out the state of the store. My goal in pointing out numbers of apps wasn’t to do a Nelson Muntz “ha-ha” laugh at the Windows Store, nor was it to say “this is amazing, it’s going to smoke all of the other tablet ecosystems. I have no idea, and I generally don’t like to make predictions around unpredictable things.

But my intention was to see if I could gather this information in a useful, usable way, and when I found that I could, my goal was to share that – to inform others – heck, to hopefully incentivize more devs to come along and give it a shot. This is a new ecosystem, a new platform, and a brave new world for Microsoft. As I’ve said before – it’s anybody’s game.

As I mentioned on the WinAppUpdate twitter feed the other day. I’m going to change the focus of WinAppUpdate – the site and the Twitter feed. As long as I can continue to do so, I will provide updates, likely every Wednesday, about how the store is doing, what the top categories look like, etc – because I think that info is interesting to everyone.

But I just as much plan to delve into the quality of the apps. Who is using the breadth of the charm bar, app bar, etc, who is providing something new and novel that you can’t get anywhere else.


  1. What I would like to see is the same done with the Apple and Google Store. I personally think having quality/useful apps is better than quantity.

    I’d be willing to bet only 10% – 20% of the apps in the Apple / Google store have significant download counts. The majority of them are dowloaded by a handful of users or not at all.

    Let’s be honest, other than games there are maybe 10 – 20 must have apps for tablet users.

  2. 10,000 apps is enough for any os but they must be the best apps… the problem here is that developers don’t care about a few million users, they want those 200 million ios users, even though apple have said that they have 400 million, but they don’t count those million of ios devices that have been recycle in the previous five years, it could be 50% percent or maybe more. I live in New York City and when I take the Subway 70% of the times that I see an iPerson with and iDevice the iToy has a broken screen, what an iDisgrace!

  3. I think you’re being generous at 10%. Both stores contain piles of trite junk that nobody ever downloads, and a handful of good apps (across categories).

    The irony as I went looking through the top sellers on the iOS App Store, and so many of them are productivity tools – in particular, Microsoft Office clones.

  4. […] many applications were actually there. I had heard rumblings of 400 or so applications. As I said late in Sept. 2012, my intentions were never malicious. I pondered whether there was any way to query the store […]