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.

What’s more, Windows 8 Metro style applications allow developers to use familiar languages and UI paradigms, so it’s easier than ever to leverage your existing skills. If you have experience with WPF or Silverlight, then building a Metro style application with XAML and C# (or VB) will be straightforward for you. If you’re more of a web whiz, the support for building HTML5/CSS/JavaScript Metro style applications will help you to quickly leverage those skills to build awesome apps and games. And C++ developers are now also able to join the party, with C++ and XAML a fully-supported pairing for building Metro style apps.

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:

Website to Metro style app

iPad to Metro style app


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, 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, 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):

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:

  1. Create a really great Windows 8 Metro style app (or game) immediately. Get it as ready as if you were submitting to the store.
  2. 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.
  3. If you don’t know your local evangelist, then email the following information to
    1. Your name
    2. City & country where you are located
    3. Brief description for your app (no binary, screenshot is optional, but only send if the screenshot is public, non-confidential stuff )
    4. 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.

6 thoughts on “Getting an App in the Windows Store: What, Why, and How”

  1. More barriers to developing applications for our own devices! You don’t mention the ongoing costs of being an approved developer.

    1. John, I would encourage you to share your feedback with the Windows Store folks via the team blog link above. And I’d mention that while there is a cost in getting an account to sell your apps in the Windows Store, you can still develop desktop apps for exactly the same cost as you did in Windows 7. No change there.

      And if you’re developing apps for your own device (or for an enterprise), you don’t need a Windows Store developer account at all.

      1. It’s a walled garden – many developers don’t like this model (copied from Apple), but it’s the only way Microsoft can make a profit from phone and tablets apps (if there would be multiple marketplaces, the profit won’t go directly to MS).

        Anyway, it’s nothing to worry – the companies that will have a really great application idea (very few) will make some bucks also from Win8 and WP metro apps, but it will remain a niche area (games, entertainment, countless small utility apps), with all the rest of the serious development being done on the classical model, without having to pay a tax to a single company.

  2. I would be curious to see the results of “Hackathon” and the labs in terms of turn out, general developer interest, and of course what kind of apps are created. I have a feeling the overall interest in creating Windows 8 apps is gernally more lackluster than not.

    I am a ASP .NET C# developer and don’t really plan to ever create any windows apps for the market even though I have the toolset and expereince to do so (I’ve written a few WinForms apps as well). I was recently lamenting that Microsoft contacted me a few months ago about WP7 development and I accidentally asked them not to contact me again to a co-worker. Did I miss an opportunity to work with a WP7 device? My co-worker replied, “Do you really care?” He is also an ASP .NET C# developer, btw. I don’t suppose I really do care.

    I do have a Google app developer account which only cost $25.00 to join as opposed to the $100.00 Microsoft wants. As a C# developer, Java is a language I can easily pick up. My plan, of course, is to do Java/Android mobile development. This is the same with my co-worker. Also, it appears that much of the mobile development work is possible with PhoneGap and such which requires HTML/CSS/JavaScript/JQuery knowledge alone (which we also have).

    1. What I can tell you from first-hand experience is that many of our Windows 8 developer events are sold out well in advance of the event date. The feedback we’ve been getting from the hands-on events has been good, and I’ve seen several folks go from idea to having good progress towards a finished app over the course of a 3-day Metro Accelerator Lab.

      I hope I haven’t given the impression that I think that every developer will or should become a Metro style app developer. There’s still lots of great stuff coming for ASP.NET, from MVC4 to Single-Page Applications and Web API, so if that’s what you’re happy developing, by all means stick with it.

    2. You confuse me. You seem to be leaning toward Android because of market share and then just ignore the market share of Windows.
      I’m published on Windows Phone, Android, and Blackberry markets and have just recieved my token for the Windows Store from the Application Excellence Lab review with a Microsoft Engineer in NYC that I did on the last day of a 3 day Metro Accelerator Lab which was well attended all 3 days.

      For $25 Google will provide you will very little guidance and accept anything that compiles. Your app may or may not work/look right and probably won’t on most android devices. 

      For $99 Microsoft offers very clear guidance with an application certification process and testing for Windows Phone.

      For $99 Apple will tell you their certification requirements, For $99 more they will let you sell your app in their store. Apple like Microsoft, offers very clear guidance with an application certification process and testing.

      If regards to development language and environment, Visual Studio stomps the rest hands down.

      As I understand it, individual registration for the Windows 8 store is going to be $49, you are going to have the guidance, process, and testing and the largest computing market in the world.

      Phonegap is interesting, but their is some asshat dilema to be addressed of why we got away from developing web applications run through a browser in exchange to be able to pay these 3 companies $$$ for the priveledge of being able to run our web application through their markets via native applications (browser component with webpage loaded) created with phonegap.

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