I'm a geekette who enjoys playing with new technology for software developers. I work as a Developer Evangelist for Microsoft. My current focus is on machine learning and big data on Azure.
I’m super excited about building apps for the Windows Store. In this article, I’ll discuss why Android developers should consider developing for the Windows Store as well.
First of all, let me be clear about what we are developing for. Developing Windows Store apps allows your app to run on Windows 8: both PCs with x86/x64 processors and tablets/slates with ARM processors. You can also develop applications for the Windows Phone, but there are slightly different APIs for this. You will probably want to have different front ends for a tablet/slate and a phone anyway, to optimize for their very different form factors and screen sizes, and there are some best practices to get high code reuse between Windows Store and Windows Phone applications.
First, I’ll reference a blog post by Kevin Ashley, who has earned more than $100,000 total with his apps in the Windows Store. Kevin is a Microsoft employee who, in his off-work spare time, built some games for the Windows Store. In the roughly 6 months since Windows 8 has shipped, he has earned over $100K in app sales. The unbelievable part is that his biggest app is a collection of card games. Can you imagine making that kind of money on a card game app in Apple’s App Store or Google Play? There is currently a lot of opportunity for developers and they are making money in the Windows Store.
Secondly, the Windows Store rewards profitable apps with even more money than Google Play. When you first release your app in the Windows Store, you take 70% of the revenue and the Windows Store takes 30%, which is the same as Google Play’s 30% cut. But, in the Windows Store, once your application makes $25,000 USD, your share increases to 80%. So you are rewarded for creating a compelling app! For example, if your app makes $1 million in sales, you would take home $97,500 more* selling in the Windows Store than Google Play.
* To show my work: on $1 million in sales, you would get 70% from Google Play, which is $700,000. In the Windows Store, you would make 70% on the first $25,000 (which is $17,500) and 80% on the rest (which is $780,000). $780K + 17.5K – 700K = $97.5K difference.
Thirdly, this is a pretty small thing, but you can charge more for your application in the Windows Store. The maximum price of an app in Google Play is $200 USD and the maximum price of an app in the Windows Store is $999.99 USD.
Finally, I’ll close by mentioning the size of the Windows ecosystem. You have the opportunity to reach more people on more devices – 60 million Windows 8 and Windows RT licenses were sold in just the first three months! With the reach of the Windows install base and the new Windows Store distribution channel, there's never been a better time to build for Windows.
There are compelling analytics available from the Windows Store:
· Adoption reports: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsstore/archive/2012/05/10/making-customer-focused-decisions-with-adoption-reports.aspx
· Quality reports: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsstore/archive/2012/06/27/improving-apps-with-quality-reports.aspx
· Finance reports: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsstore/archive/2012/08/03/getting-paid-from-the-windows-store.aspx
Read these blog posts (complete with screenshots) for the details. But in summary, you get a lot of rich data. Besides the expected total downloads, average star rating, and total sales revenue, you have access to download trends over time, conversion data (page views vs. downloads vs. purchases), referral sources for your app (how people are finding it), download data by various filters (age group, gender, country, etc.), usage data (the amount of time your app is being used per day), rating data, and store trends. You can improve the quality of your app; data on crashes, hangs, and exceptions is logged for you to investigate. Finally, you can track your earnings in the Windows Store and get visibility into what app proceeds are paid, reserved, pending, or available. You can also monitor your finances by app and over time.
There are many articles written about all of the cool new features in Windows 8 and Windows Store apps, so let me just focus on two of them: live tiles and roaming data.
Live tiles give you the ability to update your tile on the Start Menu with fresh, relevant information to draw the user back in. A game could display your high score, a weather app could show the temperature in your city, and a news app could cycle through the top news headlines. Tiles are essentially the front door to your application, so enticing, interesting content will encourage the user to come back to your application often. For example, if you create a game with leaderboard functionality, you could push a notification to the game’s tile when a friend tops the user’s high score…extra incentive to want to play the game again immediately and reclaim bragging rights! I wrote an article which goes into more depth on the how-to of live tiles at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/jennifer/archive/2012/11/20/real-world-live-tiles-working-with-live-tiles-in-windows-8-apps.aspx.
Roaming data is another amazing feature: the ability to roam state between Windows 8 devices using your application (for free)! For example, my husband and I are both geeks, and we always bring a laptop on vacation (but not both of our laptops, because it is vacation, after all). Let’s say we brought my husband’s laptop (running Windows 8) on vacation. I use it (logging in using my Microsoft account) to read a book using an eReader app (such as a Nook or Kindle app). Perhaps I get to page 74 on “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” before my kids need me or we have to leave for dinner or something. I might never get back to my book, but after returning home and logging into my own laptop (again, using my same Microsoft account), I can launch the eReader app, and it opens to “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” on page 74! Amazing experience for me as a user, to have it remember where I was and bring me back, even when using different machines! And as a developer, this is crazy-easy to code. You essentially just write out two name-value pairs (something like (“Book”, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”) and (“Page”, 74)) to RoamingSettings with a simple API call, and the system under the covers will cache it locally and then push it to cloud storage, where it can be accessed from your app on other machines. Then on launch of your app, check RoamingSettings and use that data/state if it exists.
The similarity of Java and C# will be an advantage to Android developers writing apps for the Windows Store. Here are some resources to get you up and running.
Android –> Windows 8 resources: this is a landing page for some extremely useful resources, including an API mapping from common Android APIs to their Windows Store equivalents.
App Builder program: you can sign up for one of several learning paths, and you will receive email tips & tricks to walk you through building an app in 30 days. Each day, you learn the next step to create your application, so by the end, you have a pretty cool app! With this program, you also get connected with your local technical evangelist and get FREE expert guidance on your app. There are occasionally prizes/incentives for publishing apps too – no downside to registering!