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Windows Store versus the world: How do Microsoft's offerings really stack up?

Brad Chacos | Feb. 28, 2013
Whenever talk turns to the comparatively low number of apps available in the Windows Store, commenters invariably take the article to task. "Quantity isn't as important as quality!" they type, frequently tossing in an ALL CAPS EXPLETIVE or three. "Who wants 100,000 fart apps anyway?"

The takeaway

After scouring the depths of the three largest app stores, I can safely say that the Windows Store simply doesn't compete with Google's Play Store or Apple's App Store in either quantity or sheer usefulness. That's to be expected, of course, as Android and iOS are far more mature (and far more popular) than Microsoft's fledgling ecosystem.

While the Windows Store puts in a strong showing in gaming and video apps, it simply isn't sufficiently well-rounded to allow you to live a purely in-app life, as many users do on iOS and Android. Even if you wholeheartedly embrace Microsoft's modern-style vision of the future, it's all but guaranteed that you'll need to hop into IE 10 or download some desktop apps--assuming you're using Windows 8 rather than Windows RT--in order to make up for the shortcomings of the Windows Store's app library.

Here's the good news: While a mish-mash mix of modern-style apps, desktop programs, and Web apps might be inelegant, it certainly works well enough from a usability standpoint. The sheer power of Windows 8 as an entire organism is good enough to get you through your day. And, with Windows 8 already besting iOS in several critical areas, that "whole picture" approach may be perfectly acceptable for most people--as long as you're not a music-loving Windows RT user.

Every desktop app that's downloaded puts Microsoft's grand vision for the future in jeopardy, however. The course that Microsoft has charted hinges on tapping the promise of the Windows Store. For Windows RT to survive, for Windows 8 to thrive, and for the cross-platform (and potential Windows Phone-saving) possibilities of Windows Blue to truly succeed, touchscreens and touch-friendly Windows 8 apps have to shine--but first, they have to be created.

The Windows Store's promises are more dream than reality at this early juncture. That may change in time, but for now it's a good thing the desktop's there to fall back on.


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