One way of looking at Microsoft’s Windows 8 strategy is as an attempt to establish a new tablet platform. By welding the tablet platform to the desktop platform, Microsoft ensured that every customer who wanted the latest Windows release would also get the tablet release, though some are stuck with keyboard and mouse to control it. The downside is that some users who would have upgraded to Windows 8 if it had been less radical will stick with Windows 7. Microsoft is betting that despite the controversy, the hybrid operating system is a better bet for the difficult task of creating a new ecosystem than building a completely new tablet operating system that few would have purchased.
So how is the new platform doing? I asked on Twitter for developers with apps on both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 to let me know how the rate of sales or downloads compare.
One was the maker of Cineworld, a cinema listing app for the UK and Ireland. He reported:
my cineworld app has about 1.8K downloads a month on WP.. on
#win its a few hundred
The other was an app for fans of Manchester United football club called 1st4Fans:
Windows 8 is 70/day. Windows Phone is 130/day
Another was the maker of Barcode Generator:
Barcode Generator stats say 32K download since Aug and several hundreds dwn/day. Looks pretty good, isn’t it?
The author of TweeterLight says that he has “more downloads of W8 app in 1 month than WP7 app in 1 year”, showing that not everyone is finding the phone platform bigger than the tablet platform, though a key factor is that there is an official Twitter client for the phone but not for new-style Windows 8:
TweeterLight is also a paid-for app, which means fewer downloads and perhaps avoidance of the Twitter throttling that has afflicted the free clients.
Others are reporting a boom in Windows Phone downloads, like Lestyn Jones who says:
Put that together with the Cineworld stats – 1.8K per month for an app that is only relevant in the UK and Ireland. It does look as if Windows Phone has been considerably reinvigorated by the launch of Windows Phone 8.
Returning to Windows 8 though, my initial reaction was that these responses are not an impressive start for Microsoft’s new platform, considering the wide usage of Windows on the desktop.
My further reflection though is this. I find myself more willing to try out new-style apps on Windows 8 than desktop apps either on Windows 8 or previous versions, thanks to the ease of installation and removal, discovery through the store, and the additional security of the app sandbox. An interesting question to ask then: if Microsoft had not created this new app platform, how many of these niche apps would have been downloaded as desktop applications?
Despite its imperfections and mixed reception, at least Windows 8 now has an app platform.
This is a small sample and other reports would be welcome.