Getting an App in the Windows Store: What, Why, and How
Most of my readers are probably aware that Windows 8 is on the horizon. If you're a software developer, whether an experienced Windows dev, or one who works on other platform, chances are good that you've at least heard of it. What I propose to do in this post is argue for a simple proposition...every developer who would like to put some additional money in their pocket owes it to themselves to learn the What, Why, and How of the Windows Store.
The "What" portion of this post is pretty straightforward, namely the Windows Store. New to Windows 8, the Windows Store is the single place for consumers to find and acquire Metro style apps in Windows 8. If your app isn't there, users won't be able to find and install it, simple as that. You probably won't be surprised to find that we think the Windows Store is kind of a big deal. In fact, there's an entire official blog devoted to the store, which you just might want to bookmark.
All developers, whether experienced Windows hands, HTML/CSS slingers, iOS/Android app developers, have a tremendous opportunity in Windows 8. The Windows Store will represent a huge market when Windows 8 launches, and if history is any measure it will grow rapidly. Windows 7 sold more than a half a billion licenses in its first 2 years after release. By some estimates there are more than 1.5 billion PCs running Windows today.
Simply put, those who are first in the door to the Windows Store stand to profit handsomely by the visibility and prestige of being one of the first apps in the store when Windows 8 is released.
And if you're a website developer or iOS developer, we've even started providing resources to help you port your applications to the new platform:
Hopefully, by this time you understand why you'd want to write a Metro style app and get it in the store. Next is the question of how. To start with, you'll need a copy of Windows 8 (the current release as of this writing is the Consumer Preview, which you can get here), and a copy of Visual Studio 11 (the current release as of this writing is the Visual Studio 11 beta, which you can get here).
Next step is to head over to http://dev.windows.com/, where you'll find tutorials, downloads, and samples you can use to get started (not to mention performance best practices and store certification requirements). And if you're looking for information on making your app look great (and work well, from a UX standpoint), we've got you covered at http://design.windows.com/, including UX design patterns, downloadable design assets, and end-to-end guidance.
If you learn better via webcasts or in-person events, you should check out our Windows 8 Developer Camps and see if there's one near you. If you're in the DC area, the local Public Sector folks are holding a series of Windows 8 events, including evening lectures, webcasts, and 1-day dev camps.
Need some focused time to get started on your app? Join us for a local Metro Accelerator Lab, or Metro Friday Hackathon (currently running here in Mid-Atlantic and in Tampa, FL, but more are coming to other locations in the US east coast). There are Metro Accelerator Labs coming up in the following cities (for the east coast...if you're outside of the US east coast, check availability with your local Developer Evangelist):
- Tampa, FL (http://aka.ms/MetroLabTA)
- Atlanta, GA (http://aka.ms/MetroLabAT - I'll be there!)
- Boston, MA (http://aka.ms/MetroLabBos)
Whichever you attend, lab or hackathon, you'll have focused time for coding, with access to Microsoft evangelists with hands-on experience building Metro style apps, who can help you with your ideas, questions, or roadblocks.
Once you have your app idea prototyped and have a fairly clear idea of what's needed to finish it, you'll probably start thinking about submitting it to the Windows Store for review. As with the Windows Marketplace for Windows Phone 7, all apps in the Windows Store will have to undergo review to ensure that they meet the required performance and quality guidelines.
At the time of this writing, access to the Windows Store is by invitation only, and you will need a token in order to be able to register for a developer account with the store. So the last part of how is "how do I get a token?" The best way is to attend an Application Excellence Lab, which is a 1:1 engagement with a trained Premier Field Engineer to review your application for performance, quality, and adherence to Metro design principles. If your application meets the review criteria, you will receive a token to register for the store. If your app still needs some work, you'll receive detailed feedback on what needs improvement, which means you'll have a better (and hopefully more profitable) app in the end.
Finally, here are the suggested steps to get invited to an App Excellence lab:
- Create a really great Windows 8 Metro style app (or game) immediately. Get it as ready as if you were submitting to the store.
- If you know your local DPE evangelists (maybe because you attended a Windows camp training), get in touch with them (that would be me, for folks in DC, MD, VA, and WV...you can contact me here) and ask them to nominate your app for a lab.
- If you don’t know your local evangelist, then email the following information to email@example.com:
- Your name
- City & country where you are located
- Brief description for your app (no binary, screenshot is optional, but only send if the screenshot is public, non-confidential stuff )
- Wait for our response letting you know where the closest app excellence lab will be and how to get in touch with the right evangelist to nominate you.
I can't wait to see the many fantastic apps developed by the very talented folks I know here in Mid-Atlantic. If you have questions about any of the above, feel free to drop me a line.