There are now more than 50,000 Windows 8-only applications available in the Windows Store, a big jump from when Windows 8 launched, but a far cry from what the company projected just before the launch.
According to the website MetroStore Scanner, the store has 50,341 apps on the shelves, finally reaching that number over the weekend after more or less growing steadily at 10% per month since last October. There was a spike in December perhaps as part of the Christmas rush.
But back in October Microsoft predicted it would have an inventory of more than 100,000 by the end of January, and now nearly two months later has just half that has materialized.
It's bad news for Windows 8 and Microsoft because by the company's own admission applications designed for the touch-friendly operating system are essential for attracting customers to it. Compelling apps mean more converts.
Getting apps has proven a challenge, with the latest enticement being an offer of $100 to developers for every Windows 8 app they get placed in the Windows Store up to 10. They can reap the bounty for an additional 10 Windows Phone 8 apps in the Windows Phone Store. "Offer good only to the first 10,000 qualified applications published in the Windows Store and/or Windows Phone Store, or until the end of the promotional period, whichever comes first," Microsoft says.
That's $1 million Microsoft is ponying up to stimulate apps development in this promotion alone. That doesn't include the cost of developer trainings and a generous royalty agreement for the most popular applications.
While 50,000 apps is a benchmark, it's coming too late for it to be considered a positive benchmark.
Jettison Windows RT?
Meanwhile, Microsoft is using the same Windows Store stats to defend Windows RT, the hardware/software platform based on ARM chips that runs a light version of Windows 8 and can handle only Windows Store Modern applications.
Windows RT came under fire recently from IDC, which suggested Microsoft dump the package. It is intended to compete with iPads, but hasn't made strong inroads so far. Nevertheless, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows planning told CNET that "as the number of apps grow in the store, that value promise only gets stronger."
That value promise was based on a narrow set of circumstances. "Let's say you drop that PC in a pool. Well, you get a new one and then you just redownload [the apps]," he told CNET. "That's the kind of model people are used to with a phone or tablet today. I can maintain all the apps in the [Microsoft] store and reset with a single switch. So, on Windows RT, the user experience stays consistent over time."
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