Oct 12

Windows Store: Top Markets

A reader earlier today asked if the overall growth of the global count of apps while US English stayed at a lower count generally meant that non-English markets were growing well. The answer is yes – in fact I pointed out that the locale with the second largest app count is the Chinese/China locale, at 3,456 – which interestingly has a much higher app count than any other Chinese markets (Chinese/Singapore: 3,104, Hong Kong: 3099, or Taiwan: 2953) – indicating that – in this case – app developers aren’t blanketing apps across locales that may not be appropriate for them.

In general, I’m still seeing some app developers squeeze apps that aren’t locale appropriate outside of the locale where they do belong – but in general, I think this is getting better.

I thought I’d take a quick moment to examine the commenter’s idea of which locales were at the top of the charts. So here we go – the top 10 Windows Store locales (actually 5, since there are multiple ties):

Rank Locale Number of apps
1 US English (en-us) 3,660
2 China/Chinese (zh-cn) 3,456
3 (tie) Mexico/Spanish (es-mx) 3,384
3 (tie) Japan/Japanese (ja-jp) 3,384
4 (tie) Basque (eu-es) 3,378
4 (tie) Catalan (ca-es) 3,378
4 (tie) Galician (gl-es) 3,378
4 (tie) Spain/Spanish (es-es) 3,378
5 (tie) UK/English (cy-gb) 3,289
5 (tie) UK/Welsh (cy-gb) 3,289

Interesting notes – all of the *-es locales are tied other than Mexico. This likely means that apps are being offered across all of the locales even when they may not really be localized. Same in the two UK locales listed – I sincerely doubt (m)any apps have been properly localized to Welsh.

I also thought it was strange that by the time I hit 10, I hadn’t run into the German (de-de) locale. Amusingly, it was next, with 3,252 apps.

Disclaimer: These counts were tabulated using information available last night, and do not include desktop applications. As a result, when you perform a search from your Windows 8 (or Window RT, if you have one) device, the count will be higher than the above. That’s expected. I never include desktop applications in my counts, and only retrieve my dataset once per day.

Oct 12

Windows Store: Wednesday Number Time

Apologies for the brevity of today’s post – didn’t time my travel to Chicago well.

This week has been a rather slow week, as I think next week may be as well. I’m anticipating things really picking up as we go in to the week of 10/22 and on after the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT. There should be well over 5,000 apps on launch day – perhaps more – depends on the bumps on the way.

For now, here’s where we are.

Globally, the store was at 4,326 Windows Store apps when I ran inventory last night, of which 3,783 were free.

Most days only added 100 or less apps, with one exceptional day that added 351 apps. Here’s what the chart of all apps looks like currently:

The percentage of free apps has been holding steady at 87-88%, globally:

As of last night, there were 2,854 total apps available in the US English Windows Store.

The category breakdown in terms of apps is holding relatively close, though the total percentage of the store that is comprised of games appears to be down (18%, was 20%), which frankly I’d like to see continue. We need some strong productivity apps in the store. While I’ve seen a few good mind mapping tools, more is needed, so I hope to see apps in the productivity category in particular grow between here and launch.

Oct 12

Windows Store: What’s interesting today?

I thought for something different, I’d take a look through one day’s apps to see what showed up that actually looked interesting to me. Easier said than done, since I decided to do this with yesterday’s apps (356 new apps yesterday). As I noted last week, there are a lot of apps showing up that are simply Web portals. I’m not really considering those in this list. I wanted to try and highlight a few apps and games that looked interesting, unique, or important, to me. Here goes:



  • Sky TV NZ (Free) by SKY Network Television Limited


Food & Dining:

  • In Season (Free) by Long Hair Software, LLC


Health & Fitness:




Oct 12

Windows Store: Show me the numbers.

If you haven’t yet read my post from yesterday, please do. It’s very relevant to this conversation. As I stated – The Windows Store doesn’t need a large number of apps to be successful. It needs a number of great apps that drive people to the platform.

Sermon aside, I know many people are visiting this site to find out where the store is at, and where it may be by 10/26. So let’s have a look.

As of today, the Windows Store has 3,610 Windows Store apps available for purchase or free download. This is a non-trivial increase, and I’ve been seeing an average of 118 apps per day, but it ebbs and flows. Nothing so far matches the huge increase seen on 9/13, but during three days of the last week, over 240 apps hit the store each day. Charted with the earlier data, here is the result:

Pretty strong growth. If you trend that out, the Windows Store will indeed be at over 5,000 apps by launch day.

There was a rush of paid apps that became available, but generally a much higher percentage of apps coming in the store have been free. As of today, 88% of the store’s global inventory consists of free apps. Here’s how that has been trending:

There are a total of 1,837 developers (both individuals and organizations) represented in the store, with the majority having one application available each, though a large number have submitted 2 or more up to about 5. Above that, the spread gets thinner, with the top 10 developers all having 20 or more applications in the store. The top development organization has 96 applications, and the second most is the individual who previously had the most – who now has 51 applications available. There are quite a few larger organizations represented in the Windows Store, such as Asus, AT&T, Amazon (of course),  BMW, eBay, NBCUniversal, Toshiba, and Viacom among others – but I’m also seeing a lot of apps written by individual developers, and a fair amount from Microsoft IT consulting organizations as well.

Many apps on the store are smaller, unitasking apps – the kind I’d frankly like to see less of, since it makes the store harder to navigate. In some ways, these small tchotchke apps are like the Windows command-line tools of yore – power toys for power users. Nice to have, but I’m hoping we start to see some truly unique, well-designed apps that reflect the tenets I mentioned yesterday.

From here on out, all stats are for the US English store (which still has the largest app inventory, at 2,420 apps).

Here’s how the categories break down:

The top two categories are the same, but games have declined 2% in the overall inventory (down from 20%), Entertainment is up 1%, and Tools is up dramatically, from 5% to 10%. Education is up dramatically, from 4% previously. Unfortunately, all of this took a toll on productivity, which is down 2% to 6% of overall inventory today. The Music and Video and Lifestyle categories were unchanged.

94% of the titles that are on x86 or x64 are available on ARM at the current time – though it remains to be seen if that changes after developers can obtain Windows RT systems to test their applications on.

Microsoft’s Mail, Calendar, and Contacts suite of applications has the largest number of ratings submissions by users, at 1,511 – with a rating of 3.2. A rating I expect to improve over time as Microsoft enhances and improves the somewhat constrained applications. The app with the second most ratings is Fruit Ninja, with a rating of 4.0. Aside from that, the apps with the most ratings so far are generally those from Microsoft, landing most in high 3 to 4.x territory.


Oct 12

Windows Store: Charmed, I’m sure.

I noted yesterday on Twitter that many of the apps that are appearing on the store look alike. This is really unfortunate. It’s unfortunate for consumers as they’ll need to sort through lots of chaff to find really unique apps. It’s unfortunate for developers because, well, they’re wasting their time. If you’re a dev who is cutting and pasting into the VS 2012 templates, and putting little effort into making something unique, you’re not going to stand out, and you’re not going to have many fans of your app (or make any money if you’re using ads in it or selling it).

I’m seeing too many apps that are glorified Web browsers – apps that simply take one of the Visual Studio (VS) 2012 templates and put a Metro-style veneer over public Web sites or Web content. If you’re taking the time to build an app, ask yourself, “is what I’m building better than if the user just used Bing to search or Internet Explorer 10 to browse?

What is more important on October 26th:

  1. That there be a giant number of apps available in the Windows Store?
  2. That there be a handful of truly compelling, unique apps on the Windows Store?

Through some fault of my own, the focus has become item 1. That’s not the case.

Let’s take a step back. Microsoft has written two blog posts that should frankly be required reading for Windows Store developers. If you are a developer and you  haven’t yet read them, please do so.

  1. Creating Metro style apps that stand out from the crowd (July 11, 2012)
  2. Embracing UI on demand with the app bar (Sept. 6, 2012)

In looking through the range of apps in the store, it became apparent to me that there are some rules of the road that devs should really be trying to live up to.

When it comes to writing your own app for Windows 8 and Windows RT, you should make your app:

  1. Thoughtful. Don’t just take a VS 2012 template and interlink it with public Web content. What value is that adding? Take time before you even open VS up, and storyboard your app. Use a mindmap, PowerPoint, a whiteboard, OneNote… whatever – use a napkin! But take the time to understand the flow of experiences a user will have with your app. One app I looked at, a PDF viewer, comes with no built in content, and doesn’t display the App bar automatically. Result? It’s a blank slate with literally nothing for a novice user to do. They’ll close it and throw it away. Understand how your users will use your app – before you design it, and before you build it.
  2. Designed. Call it Metro, call it Windows 8 Style. Call it whatever. There are thousands of apps in the store, If you’re just taking a VS template and squishing content into it, with default images or bland stock photography, your app will get lost in the mix. Take the time to design your app, pay for good imagery if you need it, pay a designer to help you design it, if you’re a developer and not a designer. Take your time and do it right. We’ve found a few apps with weird font clipping that indicates the app hasn’t been that thoroughly tested. If you’re going to take the time to design it, take the time to test your app, and ensure it looks great, throughout. Take the time to build all of the suggested tile sizes, and if you elect to make a Live Tile, don’t go overboard. You’re passing along information that is intended to be helpful to the user at a glance. This isn’t Times Square.
  3. Unique. Do something that hasn’t been done. The Windows Store already has several password management apps and xkcd or reddit readers. What are you going to build that is so amazing that users will not only seek it out on the Windows Store, but download it, and not forget about it 2 days later? Do something new. Do something compelling that users will fall in love with your app over.
  4. Professional. Don’t use a cutesy name for your app or the company name you’re using for the Windows Store. Make it professional. Check the text and images in your app and on your Web site. Don’t lift someone else’s trademarked or copyrighted content for your app or your icon. If the language of the app you’re building isn’t your first language, take the time or money to find someone who speaks that language, and have them proofread it. Show adequate screenshots on your app’s Windows Store entry, but don’t show more than you need. Also, ensure the first screenshot shows what your app does – don’t show a welcome page! That app page – that image – is your single best chance to make a first impression. Take the time to ensure it looks professional, and looks compelling.
  5. Cross-platform. Got a specific reason to not support one of the three architectures? Tell me about it. Just over 5% of apps in the US Store currently don’t support Windows RT. Now that may be because you all don’t have Windows RT systems to test on, and it’ll change. That’s my hope. Recall that Windows RT has no user-installable apps other than the ones you’re building. So you are Windows RT’s best hope – and if it’s successful, it’ll pay you back. Don’t drop Windows RT support unless you absolutely have to.
  6. Support contracts and the Charms bar. Contracts and the Charms bar are how your app interacts with the rest of Windows. Sure, one or more charms may not make sense for some apps. But really – if you’re not using any of them, what does your app do??? If you have content, use contracts, and support the Search charm. Unless you’re building a strange app, enable the Share charm – this is the single easiest way for your users to share out your content – and talk about your app, if you do it right! We’ve seen some apps that “barely share”, too – they share just a link, even if the user highlighted text. Conversely, if a user is watching a video and they use the Share charm to send an email, don’t just send the description, with no URL call to action for the recipient to click on (yes, this is a behavior I’ve seen too). Take the time to sweat the details, and make share work the way your users expect. Don’t leave it out unless it doesn’t make sense. The saddest dialog in Windows is the Share charm telling a user, “This app can’t share.” Support the devices charm if your app will support printing, Play To, or sharing with other devices. Support the settings charm if, well, your app has any settings. Don’t stick app settings in the app or under the app bar. They go under the Settings charm.
  7. Support the app bar and navigation bar. I’m not going to add much other than tell you to read, and absorb the second Microsoft link above. Don’t skimp on designing your app bar if it makes sense to add it. In the case of the app I mentioned earlier, I think including a PDF tutorial that explains the controls would prove both more welcoming and more thoughtful, and enable users to more easily become familiar with the controls of that app that are contained in the app’s app bar.
  8. Support snap. Sure, there are whole categories of apps that make sense to not support snap. It also appears that there will be many budget-minded Windows 8 and Windows RT devices that may have a resolution too low to support snap. But if your app makes sense, don’t skimp on designing snap. For users who multitask and have the right hardware, this is how you enable them to use your app as a secondary app while another app is the user’s primary focus.

I think that Microsoft itself is doing a pretty good job of living up to the above rules, in particular with their Mail, Fresh Paint, and SkyDrive apps. Another great example is the Dailymotion app.

You’ve got almost one month before the Windows Store goes live. Take the time to build a few great apps. Don’t build a mass of mediocrity. There’s already app stores that do that.

Sep 12

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.

Sep 12

What’s the deal with counting Windows Store apps?

I just posted an entry on my “regular” blog that relates to this site. Thought some of you might want to read it.

What’s the deal with counting Windows Store apps?

Sep 12

Windows Store: A second wind

It’s been a few days since I posted an update on the growth of the store. Yesterday Mary Jo Foley posted an article with some of my recent stats, and Alex Wilhelm posted a bit more cynical take. Today, fellow EXMSFT, Charlie Kindel posted on his blog about how important it is that the growth of the Windows 8 Store (or any sustainable ecosystem) be organic, not subsidized.

First: I’m happy that there is so much interest in these statistics. I can’t emphasize enough that this is all “seat-of-the-pants” numbers that I believe to be reasonably accurate.

Second: There’s been another second wind of apps appearing. Later this week I hope to write a few posts about the apps themselves, instead of just throwing out app counts for once. In the mean time, let’s just say that the last couple of days have been very kind to Windows 8 users.

According to my calculations today, there are now 2,452 Windows Store apps available globally, with 1,741 of them available in the US.

Back to the “seat-of-the-pants” aspect. As I rewrote some code I discovered a bug in how I was calculating free apps internationally (outside of the US English store). Because of that, the percentage is up. Not dramatically, not fatally, but up. Today the number of free apps is 2,122 globally, meaning ~86% of apps are free. I’m looking to post more granular updates of the US store in particular, and will hopefully start updating the stats around it (including categories) in more detail. In a nutshell, I believe that the percentage of apps that are free outside of the US may be higher than it is inside the US. Further calculations in time may reveal more info here.

Finally, I’m introducing a stat that I believe will be interesting, which is how the ARM app count stacks up to the count of x86 and x64 (which are effectively at parity). By calculating
ARM/average(x86/x64) I have a general percentage of apps that are available for Windows RT but are for Windows 8. Today that percentage is 93%.

Sep 12

Windows Store: Two-thousand, seventy-nine

Milestones. Every one counts. Sure, the iOS app store has considerably more apps than the Windows Store today – that’s not news.

But developers are adding to the Windows Store every day – and though some apps are removed from the store periodically, the number that grows every day. Today, the Windows Store broke the 2000 app mark and arrived at 2,079 apps available internationally.

Though I can’t explain the divot of September 12th (the day after the Windows Store opened broadly to all locales), it recovered and is continuing to trend north, as you can see below.

Just as importantly, as that number has grown, so has the number of paid apps. Free apps comprised 89% of the store inventory on September 9th, and that percentage has declined to 83% as of today.

Sep 12

Windows Store: What’s new? A day in the life of the Windows Store

The most common request I’ve gotten so far is “what is new on the store?” The Windows Store app on Windows 8 shows you in general what’s been added, but doesn’t do much to break it down for you.

Though it can be a lot of information – the store is adding roughly 50 or more apps per day – some days far more, some days a bit less, I thought I’d share “A day in the life of the Windows Store”.

From my research, today, Sept. 19, 2012, there were 61 applications added in the US market. They are listed below. Yes, I know, there are several that have non-English titles. Yes, those are available for US English users. They are hidden by default, but can be viewed by going to the Settings charm in the App Store, and selecting Preferences, then turning off the option to “Make it  easier to find apps in my preferred language”.

Books & Reference:

  • Server Posterpedia by Martin McClean – (Books & Reference / Reference) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • LOLCat Bible by Blue Marble Software (Pty) Ltd. – (Books & Reference) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • ???? by yqhan2012@hotmail.com – (Books & Reference) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)


  • Banner by Productivity Concepts – (Business) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Leads Machine by Eriksen – (Business) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)


  • Guitar Chords by Festyk – (Education) Available for: (x86|x64|no ARM)
  • Kashmiri by Hashia Labs – (Education) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Learn Pi! by MatroIT Systems Kft. – (Education) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • QuickMath by Mihov.com – (Education) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • SocialStudy by RocketDogSoftware – (Education) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • UserGroup.tv by Shawn Weisfeld – (Education) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Voice Toddler Cards by Sai Services LLC – (Education) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • IT??????? by nyoron – (Education) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)


  • Cool Clock by Ryke Studio – (Entertainment) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Imgurian by William Killerud – (Entertainment) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Love Compatible by ajimix – (Entertainment) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Mandelbrot Viewer by Ninputer – (Entertainment) Available for: (x86|x64|no ARM)
  • Modern Comic Reader by OizoSoft – (Entertainment) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Number Guess by TI Capacitación & Universidad de desarrollo – (Entertainment) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • TINAMI Ranking Viewer2 by nyoron – (Entertainment) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Word Clock 8 by TechPreacher – (Entertainment) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)


  • ace.Solitaire Collection by Ventimiglia – (Games / Card) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Animal Sounds Jukebox by ajimix – (Games / Kids) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Caça Palavras by Carlucci Apps – (Games / Puzzle) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Galinho by Sara Silva – (Games / Arcade) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • I Love Math by BRIDGE-BUILDING MEDIA GROUP – (Games / Kids) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Magnets puzzle by Tess – (Games / Puzzle) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • MATHRATHON by Chan Jun Xiu – (Games / Puzzle) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Memoriam by kagaminator – (Games / Puzzle) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Noogra Nuts by Oren Bengigi – (Games / Arcade) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Othello by Kamal Aggarwal – (Games / Strategy) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Retro WallBounce by balint – (Games / Arcade) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Snap Master by Martin Zikmund – (Games / Family) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Untangle Pro by Lee – (Games / Puzzle) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Table Games by Le_Morri – (Games / Puzzle) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • WordMixer by Webodrome Arise Technologies Private Limited – (Games / Puzzle) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • ????? by nyoron – (Games / Kids) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)

Health & Fitness:

  • PPCalc by Carles – (Health & Fitness) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Medicine Cabinet XXL by EBS – (Health & Fitness) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)


Music & Video:

  • Mini Guitar by DefthKniht – (Music & Video / Music) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)

News & Weather:

  • AAWP by Geoff Webber-Cross – (News & Weather / News) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • AS by Prisa Digital SL – (News & Weather / News) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • blog.hu by Inda-Labs – (News & Weather / News) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Informa Bologna by 5DLabs.it – (News & Weather / News) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Informa Palermo by 5DLabs.it – (News & Weather / News) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)


  • DOF Calculator by Goebbels Mario – (Photo) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Photo Viewr by WEApps – (Photo) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)


  • My Chalk Board by balint – (Productivity) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Present-A-URL by TechPreacher – (Productivity) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • QMobileClone by i-Zillion – (Productivity) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Quick XPath by Jonathan Dent – (Productivity) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Reminder Toast by SUNDARA PRABU .T – (Productivity) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)



  • Clock Tile by dave smits – (Tools) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Entertainment Organizer by CA Dev Team – (Tools) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Softonic by Softonic International SL – (Tools) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)
  • Tu frase a binario by adrfrank – (Tools) Available for: (x86|x64|ARM)