Windows Store: Any Way to Figure out Who’s On First?

The recent statistics Microsoft handed out about regarding the Windows Store made me think a bit. Microsoft noted that some apps on the store have had significant numbers of downloads. The fact that several “parts of Windows 8 and Windows RT” are only available as a download from the Windows Store innately twists what “some apps have had millions of downloads from the Windows Store” can mean. Some third parties have claimed to have statistics on this as well. In general, only Microsoft can really know or reveal download statistics – I have no ability to see this information without Microsoft sharing it with me.

However, I can look at the data I do have and extrapolate from there…

I contend, however, that the submittal of feedback is a bit of very useful data. In particular, applications with significant numbers of ratings (“star”) submittals tend to reflect apps that have either incited positive or negative feedback from lots of users. So while lots of ratings submittals may not correlate exactly to the most downloaded apps, there is, I believe, a correlation indicating that lots of users have downloaded it, as only a percentage of users take the time to submit feedback (either the app was stellar and they say so, or it was crap and they don’t mince words). I’ve often noticed that there tends to be a vacuum of feedback in the middle of the feedback range (2-4 star), which I theorize is a bit of a “couch potato factor”. People are satiated enough with the app to not submit negative feedback, but not ecstatic enough to submit positive feedback.

Because I don’t poll every page for every app in every locale (I long ago changed this to try and be kind to Microsoft’s site), I can’t tell you the statistics across every locale – there could be some apps in some locales (in particular, I know there are in the China Windows Store) that have a very high count of ratings submittals as well). But I can tell you in the US Windows Store. So, what happens when I take a look at my entire list of apps, filtered down just to the US? Here’s the answer:

Out of the 30 apps with the most rating submittals, 19 are from Microsoft. Almost all of the Microsoft apps have also been on the store since August as well though – so the stats may be a bit confusing/misleading. What’s more interesting is that even with the barrage of Microsoft apps early on, prolific (promiscuous?) apps such as Skype, Netflix, Fruit Ninja, Cut The Rope, and Kindle have managed to eke their way into the list of apps with the most rating submittals. It’s also notable that an app from (what I believe is an) independent developer like Bernardo Zamora can both attract this volume of ratings submittals, and hold it’s review score as high as a 4.5! That isn’t easy to do.

So, while it isn’t possible for me to tell who the top downloaded Windows Store applications are, I think that this set of apps reflect a collection that lots of users are downloading.

Finally, while I probably shouldn’t really say anything here, it is notable that all of these apps in the top 30 support ARM. Um… Except two of them.



  1. logos quizes are extremely popular. it is hard to beat them no matter how bad they are, this one is quite good though

  2. The biggest issue I see with the store is structural, though I concede that it really revolves around, or interacts with, the subject matter of your previous post.

    The structure of the store makes apps very difficult for users to ‘discover’ – apps are essentially just small rectangles in a sea of similar items, and there is very little about any one of them that is distinguishing from any others. Although Microsoft breaks apps up into categories and shows you ‘noteworthy’ apps by default, there is no way for a user to move from one category to the next by browsing, and the information offered in any given tile is so sparse that it doesn’t provide users with enough information to know if the tile represents what they are looking for, or might be looking for.

    There is almost no way, in an environment like that, for a small developer to get their offering noticed. All of the app stores (iOS and Android) suffer from this same problem, but the structure of the MS store makes the problem much worse in my opinion. The problem is then exacerbated greatly by the huge number of junk apps that are pouring into the store, because they add clutter into a visual / information channel that is already poorly structured and not very capable of giving a user enough information to find anything beyond what the store shoves directly in their face. The result is that only the apps which appear on that first page of app tiles, and probably only those near the start of the list, will get much notice. In reality, the biggest winners are those on the first page – the three or four winners who are listed as featured apps for a category. I bet if you ran a correlation between non-MS apps and those featured, you’d find they are the ones getting the lions share of the downloads.

    In the absence of compensating factors on Microsoft’s part, this sort of thing is going to discourage developers who produce quality work; the payoff just isn’t there, and I say that as a published developer.

    As a developer, I have to say I’m very discouraged by these problems with the MS store. I had some initial high hopes, but I just don’t see a huge upside right now. I’ve worked hard to make the apps I produce quality pieces, but they have received so few downloads that it doesn’t even begin to compensate. I’m faced with competitors who flood the store with apps they could literally generate out of some automator, and against that, what advantage is there for me to spend a month building a single, high quality app? Craft, maybe. But certainly no financial advantage.

    Here’s to hoping someone in Redmond actually reads your blog.

  3. Just out of curiousity, may you share your app? From my experience, traditional “fun” and purely entertainment based apps are going to struggle in the Windows Store compared to the iOS or Android stores. Productivity apps will be much more successful. Example: NextGen Reader. That’s becasue the vast majority of the Windows 8 app users will be using it on 11″+ screens with mouse + keyboard.

  4. It’s just a silly holiday app – SantaTrack ( It’s not exactly rocket science but I did invest guite a bit of effort into making the app a quality piece for what it is.

    I’ve had approximately 36 downloads so far. Since it is being monetized through ad support, that puts me somewhere below the worst third world wage structure for my efforts. I am, shall we say, a bit underwhelmed.

    I have some productivity and reference apps in the works so maybe they will fare better. I’m giving the Win8 store some time… but so far it doesn’t look good.

    There is a conversation going in the dev forums about how top paid social app DL’s are like 25 or 30 UNITS a day. I honestly didn’t believe the numbers, but when I looked at total DL count per day in that category, I found they were something like 400 units. That’s awful. It is so aggressively bad it defies imagination.

  5. I just discovered the answer to your discontent with the app store. Great Windows Apps is an app (or webpage) that helps weed the junk and brings new apps to the forefront. It may not be perfect but it is hands down better than Microsoft’s store.

  6. That helps users who know about it – but doesn’t help that this is an innate issue with the store as a whole.