Will Windows 10 Invigorate Windows Store Apps?

One very clear observation with Windows 10 is that it lowers the mental barrier towards Windows Store applications. Given that Store apps are optimised for tablets and that the number of Windows tablets in use is very low in comparison to the total number of PCs in use, we can confidently say that not many store apps are being downloaded and used. In particular, very few are being used on desktop computers.

Windows 10 has the potential to change this. With Windows 8, I loathed Metro apps and was irritated when an icon that I mistakenly clicked took me to a Metro app that suddenly took over the screen. The keyboard shortcut to take me back to the desktop mode (Windows key + d) was one of the first that I remembered, and one that I never forgot. Now with Windows 10, Metro apps act more like regular desktop apps, consuming only a single window and leaving the rest of the screen alone. Interacting with background windows is a single click away, and you can view multiple windows at the same time. It’s something that we’ve been enjoying for decades, and it’s a relief to be freed of the tyranny of Windows 8 Metro apps. This should make users much more willing to try out Store apps.

For example, I never used the official Twitter app (a Metro app) on Windows 8. I like to have Twitter as a background window as I work on something more important, but Metro would not let me do this. Thus I never used that app. With Windows 10, my problems are solved. Keeping Metro apps in a background window is just as easy as it is with regular Windows apps. The only problem right now is that the Twitter app is still limited in features and the behaviour is a bit quirky, but it is no longer a hard limitation of the OS, but an issue with the app itself.

Because of this alone, I expect Windows Store apps to see much more interest than before. Because of the huge size of the Windows PC ecosystem and the rapid uptake of Windows 10, we might even see excitement in the Store. Now that would be something.

Update

One should also keep in mind the massive size of Microsoft’s goal of 1 billion Windows 10 devices in the next 2-3 years. Many analysts consider this to be conservative, but this would still be about twice as large as iPhone’s installed base. Android’s installed base is probably something like 1.5 billion to 2.0 billion so Windows 10 would be half of that. If we also consider that the Windows PC owner demographic is much more likely to spend money on stuff compared to the Android demographic, which skews strongly to relatively low-income owners, it could be that we on the verge of seeing the sudden emergence of new huge app store ecosystem. This is something to watch carefully.