Windows 8 is out, ads are flooding the airwaves (bravo, Microsoft!), and the punditshpere is teeming with articles generally praising the platform but decrying the lack of apps. As Reuters recently put it, “A lack of apps is Microsoft’s Achilles heel as it attempts to catch Apple Inc and Google Inc in the rush toward mobile computing.”
Now, granted, Windows 8’s success is far from guaranteed. It IS a radical departure from the past, and it represents a bold strategy on Microsoft’s part to become a player in the tablet market, arguably without sufficient compromises for the desktop market, where mice still outnumber touch screens a gazillion to 1. Enterprises may be slow to buy in, just as they tend to be cautious in moving to every new version of Windows. But “lack of apps” is a problem that will rapidly go away. Here’s why.
When I first started writing (and trying to sell) software in the early 1980s, writing code was the easy part. The hard part was getting into the channel to SELL your software. Unless you had inside connections at a major distributor such as Egghead, it was virtually impossible for a small entrepreneur to get his or her software to market.
The beauty of the Windows Store – and indeed the entire Windows Store strategy – is that it makes selling software a no-brainer. Want to publish your latest creation to the world? No problem…simply submit it for certification and then wait a few days for it to show up in the Windows Store, where anybody and everybody can download it and use it if they judge that it’s a good value proposition. Microsoft handles payment and distribution, and you keep 70% of the proceeds – a figure that increases to 80% once you cross the $25K sales threshold.
IMHO, developers would be crazy not to jump on this new platform. Try to think of an iOS app that hasn’t already been written. Still thinking? Now realize that the Windows Store is an up-elevator that’s still on the ground floor. Opportunities abound. Millions of apps have yet to be written. The potential audience is huge, with more than 500 million Windows 7 machines out there, many of which will ultimately upgrade to Windows 8. And that doesn’t count all the new devices that will be sold, including Microsoft’s own Surface tablets.
I can’t predict how long it will take the Windows Store to reach critical mass. (How do you define critical mass, anyway?) But I can confidently predict that over time, companies will be built and millionaires will be made from Windows 8. So the real question isn’t how the lack of apps will affect adoption, but this:
Who wants to be the next millionaire?