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And the study says: Windows 8 users rarely touch Metro apps

Brad Chacos | May 23, 2013
The difference is touch: tablet and touchscreen laptop users adopted more Windows Store apps than users with non-touch displays.

Diddling with defaults
Soluto also tracked which apps are being used the most. Unsurprisingly, all but one of the top ten entries are preinstalled Microsoft apps. (Netflix cracked the list at number eight.) What's a bit surprising, however, is how rarely most apps--especially non-Microsoft apps--are being used.

Only Windows Reader, Windows Photos, Windows Camera, and the core communication apps--like Mail and Calendar--are being used by more than 10 percent of users. That quartet consists of defaults tied to basic functions of the OS. (Soluto representatives told me the modern version of Internet Explorer 10 was not included in this study.)

The Soluto report has a full breakdown of the top 20 most-used modern UI apps, along with other interesting data points, if you're curious.

Digging into the numbers
When contacted, a Microsoft spokesperson supplied the following statement:

Consumers are excited about the apps in the Windows Store and are using their favorite apps across their Windows 8 PCs and tablets. We've already passed the 250 million app download mark just six months after general availability, and almost 90% of our app catalog has been downloaded every month. We have more than 70,000 apps in the Windows Store, including favorites like Twitter, Netflix, Angry Birds, Evernote, eBay and Amazon, and more apps are added every day.

While you could try to put a positive spin on Soluto's report--almost 40 percent of desktop users open a modern app every day!the truth behind the numbers is a bit drearier than Microsoft's rosy picture might lead you to believe.

Windows 8 doesn't include traditional desktop programs for email, basic document or photo opening, calendar functionality, contact management, or SkyDrive access. Windows Media Player comes preinstalled, but the system defaults are the Music and Video apps.

In other words, if you want to use Windows 8 out of the box, you have to use finger-friendly apps. Even so, Soluto's numbers suggest that such use simply isn't happening as often as Microsoft no doubt wants it to be.

Most Windows 8 users aren't using a modern app daily. The vast majority of the most-used apps get used less than once per week, core communication apps aside. Most of the apps that are being used are critical apps baked into the operating system by Microsoft, not shining stars from third-party publishers.

Read between the lines, and you can see that users are still turning to the desktop for their everyday computing needs, despite the desktop's "Just another app" status in Windows 8.

Trials and tribulations
And who can blame them? The Windows Store still lags behind competitors in overall quantity and quality, and it's plagued by several prominent no-shows months after launch. Microsoft's own numbers show an average of just 2.5 modern UI apps are downloaded for each Windows 8 license.


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