Intel gets into the App Store game – but where does Silverlight fit in?

Intel has announced its Atom Developer Program including a new app store. The idea is to encourage a flow of applications that are well suited to netbooks, rather than general desktop applications that tend to get pressed into service because they are there, but may not be well suited to the smaller screen and more limited resources typical of netbooks versus full laptops. No doubt Intel has its eye on Apple’s successful iPhone App Store, which enhances sales of the hardware as well as providing a ready-made sales channel for independent software vendors, and wants to do the same for netbooks.

In order to participate as a developer, you have to sign up for the program, which will cost $99 annually though currently it is free. An interesting twist is that the developer program is a component market as well as an application market. Write a cool component, and you can get paid whenever any application that uses your component is sold. Intel handles all the business details, for a cut of course.

Intel is supporting two operating systems, Windows and Moblin, Intel’s Linux distribution. Your applications must be one of the following:

  • Native Windows (I am not sure whether .NET is allowed)
  • Native Moblin
  • Java
  • Adobe AIR

A puzzle is that Intel’s press release makes several references to Silverlight as a cross-platform runtime; yet although there is a Linux version of Silverlight, called Moonlight, there isn’t any exact equivalent to AIR for desktop Silverlight and I am not clear how Silverlight fits in any of the categories above. I may be reading too much into this; but perhaps all will be explained when Silverlight 4 is unveiled at PDC in November? Here’s what the press release says:

“Using Silverlight’s cross-device, cross-browser, cross-platform technology, developers will be able to write applications once and have them run on Windows and Moblin devices – expanding the reach of Silverlight applications to more consumers, regardless of whether the device they’re using is a PC, TV or phone,” said Ian Ellison Taylor, general manager, Microsoft Client Platforms and Tools.

Note that despite the above quote, Moonlight 2.0 is still in beta, and no current phones include the Silverlight runtime.

Apps must be delivered in one of the following forms:

  • .msi (for Windows*)
  • .jar (for Java*)
  • .air (for Adobe® AIR*)
  • .deb (for Debian Mobilin/Linux)
  • .rpm (for RedHat* Linux)

All applications in the store are subject to Intel’s approval (called validation):

The validation process checks your code for suitability for the Developer Program, licensing and legal issues, and some basic functionality.

Here’s the checklist. Note this requirement:

Runtimes and technologies the application can support can only be any of the following: Moblin* Native, Windows* Native, Adobe AIR*, Java FX *, and Microsoft* Silverlight*.

Hmm, Silverlight again.

Intel gets 30% of your revenue. You can also market components and if your application uses a paid-for component a share of the revenue will be paid to the component vendor. Free applications and components are also permitted.

I really like the checklist – I wish all desktop applications conformed to some of the requirements. Like this one:

The application will completely uninstall when desired, and leave no garbage files behind.

are great to read.

You can sign up here, though the SDK is not yet available.

One curious facet of the program is that although it is specifically for the Atom, in most cases your application will likely run fine on other processors. I am not sure if Intel will do anything to ensure that only Atom-powered computers use the store.

In May I posted that we should get ready for more app stores. This is really coming to pass now, with Adobe’s offering which I mentioned yesterday, Nokia’s Ovi, as well as others for Android, Palm Pre and so on.