The reach of Windows brings tremendous opportunity for app developers. In this post, Aayaz Bhorania, Lead Program Manager for our Store Services team, provides some additional depth on our approach to geographic coverage.
--Antoine


At our Windows Store Preview event on December 6, we announced our initial plan for geographic coverage for upcoming milestones in the new Windows Store. This announcement has generated a lot of interest and excitement, but we also understand that developers in some markets have concerns about the path to market for their apps. We wanted to provide some context for our plan to increase the depth and breadth of the Windows Store’s presence worldwide.

At general availability of Windows 8, the Windows Store will enable developers to sell apps in more than 200 markets, with support for local currencies in over 70 markets, and developers can localize their apps in more than 100 languages. We’ve accelerated our investment in globalizing the Store and are expanding geographic support for developers. At general availability of Windows 8, we will support app submission from 41 markets, up from the 27 markets that we originally announced. And our support will continue to increase—more local catalogs, more markets that support developer app submission, more local currency support—as we expand the Store service beyond general availability of Windows 8.

As one can imagine, there are a number of dimensions to localizing the Store. For consumer experiences, we consider the localization of the Store client, the apps and app catalog, payment options, editorial curation, and customer support. For developers, we factor in the localization of the developer dashboard and app submission experience, app certification, the markets in which we can offer paid apps, the currencies in which a developer can get paid (so-called payout), documentation localization, and developer support options. We have to consider local laws, and local business and tax regulations. Our goal is to provide a localized experience across as many of these dimensions as possible, and we are moving in stages to ensure quality in each dimension and at each stage.

In the next few sections we’ll provide more context and details on the Store’s global reach plan from the point of view of developers selling apps and consumers buying apps.   

Selling apps

App submission markets

For each of our app submission markets, developers can submit their apps using a localized developer dashboard. Developers will be able to pay the account registration fee using a local payment method in their local currency. Microsoft will also provide developer payouts in the local currency. At Windows 8 general availability, we will support 41 app submission markets.

However, we know that no balance of factors satisfies developers in markets that can’t submit apps in a given period of time. This will be the case for as long as there are unsupported markets, and that continues to motivate us to increase our support over time.  

Signing up as a developer

Before you start selling apps, you need to register with the Windows Store and create your developer account. You have two choices here:

  1. Register as an individual: This is appropriate when you have not formed a business entity specifically for the purpose of developing and selling apps. This requires that you live in one of the developer markets that the Windows Store supports.
  2. Register as a company: This is appropriate if you have a business entity specifically for the purpose of developing and selling apps. You must have the business registered in one of the developer markets that the Windows Store supports. We verify the identity of every business.

Additionally, if you intend to sell paid apps or plan to use the Windows Store’s in-app purchase platform, you must specify how you want to receive payments. The payment methods available depend on the market you register from. You are also required to submit the necessary electronic tax forms to receive payment from Microsoft.

Understanding your customers’ experience

As a developer you’ll be able to sell your apps worldwide. We understand that customers value apps that are tailored for their needs, including languages and content that is specific to them. So, before you invest in building apps targeted to customers, you need to first understand your customers’ experience.

The Store will automatically detect a market based on a customer’s settings in Windows. This market will determine the apps the customer sees and can acquire from the catalog. Many markets will have a unique catalog of apps. For any market in which we don’t offer a unique catalog, we’ll have a catalog we call “rest of world,” or ROW. In this way, we ensure that customers worldwide have a deep catalog of great apps to choose from.  

The customer’s market also determines the currency in which the app price will be listed. As a developer, you can localize your app to target any of the more than 100 languages supported, and you can also set the price in your local currency. Your customers worldwide will see this app in their local language, if the app supports it, and local currency, if the Store supports it. The Store will handle currency conversion and local tax (sales tax or VAT, where applicable) for you. Please note that in some markets, customer purchases may be subject to an International Transaction Fee (ITF).

The Windows Store will determine the language experience based on the customer’s preference and will find the content and apps available in the market that best matches their stated preferences. As a developer, you can choose to localize your apps into the languages spoken in the market where you want to sell them. It’s in your best interest to provide the most relevant experience to your customers, and localizing the app is an important step toward achieving that. This can lead to better engagement and a warmer reception of your apps. 

Targeting a specific market

As a Windows Store developer, you can choose to sell your app in any of the over 200 markets we support. Simply select the markets where you want to sell the app at submission time. However, before you decide to sell an app in a particular market, here’s a list of important considerations. 

  • If you are a developer registered in the United States, all of the proceeds you receive for app sales made anywhere in the world qualify as taxable income, and you will receive IRS forms documenting your earnings from Microsoft annually.
  • If you are a developer outside the United States, you are responsible for reporting any revenue applicable for taxation to your local taxing authority. For sales made in the United States, you will receive an IRS form annually from Microsoft which documents your US-sourced earnings. Depending on the tax treaties with the United States that apply in your market, a percentage of your earnings may be withheld by the United States Internal Revenue Service.
  • Microsoft calculates and remits sales tax and VAT associated with app purchases for your convenience in many markets. This includes EU member countries, plus Switzerland, Norway, the Unites States, and Canada.
  • If you register as a developer in a market outside the set of markets where Microsoft remits tax, or you have an existing business registration in any market outside of this set of remittance markets, you are responsible for calculating and remitting any sales tax or VAT associated with your app sales in those markets to the local taxing authorities. Microsoft will provide you with detailed sales reports to calculate the appropriate tax amount.

Buying apps

Now let’s consider localization aspects from the perspective of the customer interested in acquiring paid apps. For app purchases using the Store’s transaction platform, we require registration of a payment method. Customers don’t need to register a payment method to acquire free apps.

Buying paid apps

To buy an app that uses the Store’s transaction service, customers will need to provide a payment method registered in the market that they have selected. Supported payment methods vary from market to market. Most common forms of payment include credit cards (such as Visa, MasterCard, or AMEX) and PayPal. In addition, we are constantly working on expanding local payment support to introduce more local payment options to more markets.

Local currency

For Store markets that don’t support local currency transactions, the Store catalog will list all paid apps in United States dollars (USD) or Euros (EUR) depending on the customer’s market setting. Apps in this scenario can be purchased using an international credit card. The issuing bank may apply International Transaction Fees (ITFs) for making a purchase in foreign currency. We understand that ITFs can be a nuisance, and we’re working hard to add support for local currencies in as many markets as possible.

What’s next?

Windows 8 Beta will give us the opportunity to test and scale our Store platform, and it also provides a great opportunity to receive feedback. We’re inviting a select number of developers from a few markets to submit apps during the Beta. We will use this limited set of markets to pilot test our model and validate our services. In addition, our First Apps contest extends the submission opportunity to developers beyond the initial invitation list.

See our Global Support page for more details.

--Aayaz Bhorania