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The Windows 8 Opportunity

The store is open - let the games begin!

As the march toward general availability of Windows 8 (on October 26th) continues, I’ve had the opportunity to chat and work with lots of Windows 8 developers via hackathons, mini-meetups, and in-person and e-mail conversations. Many of them are well on their way to, or already have apps, in the Windows Store – and I’ll be profiling some of them in the weeks to come.

They got there because they recognized the significance of the first-mover advantage; there’s nothing better to increase your visibility - and profitability - than being the first (and perhaps for a while, the only) application that provides a given the age of developer democratizationfunction or caters to a specific audience. The time to secure your brand is now, and with the opening of the Windows Store last week – to developers in 120 markets – the playing field has been leveled.

This is the age of developer democratization. Anyone with a idea that sticks and some development and design experience can participate: every app in the store has to play by the same rules, has access to the same ad engines, and benefits from the same monetization scheme. Add to that the observation that there are over 650 million licenses of Windows 7 alone, and the market opportunity should become vibrantly clear!

Stake out a Store Front Conceive and Construct Leverage the Resources

Stake out a Store Front

Conceive and Construct

Leverage the Resources

Step 1: Stake out a Store Front
You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket, and you can’t realize the potential of the Windows Store unless you have an account! Here’s how to get yours:

  • Visual Studio MSDN Subscriber? you get a free, one-year account.
  • BizSpark? you’re part of the Visual Studio Ultimate MSDN offer so also get a free one-year account!
  • Student? if you’re part of DreamSpark, your subscription fee is waived.
  • Everyone else: visit the Windows Store Dashboard, where you can sign up for an annual fee of $49.

Hopefully you’re aware too that the premiere tool for building Windows 8 Store applications – Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8 – is completely free! Build your native Windows 8 apps in C#, Visual Basic, C++, or HTML 5 and JavaScript!

Step 2: Conceive and Construct (psss… build a game!)
Everyone has a passion. Channel yours into an awesome app! Got too many ideas? or none? Here’s a cool infographic that recently came to my in-box as a registered Windows Phone Developer:

Windows Phone Store Infographic - July 2012

Take a look at the availability versus the interest:

  1. Games top the customer interest level, accounting for a 1/3 of the free and over half of the paid app downloads, yet less than 1/6th of the apps in the Windows Phone store are actually games!
  2. More than 2/3 of the apps are free, but consumers are absolutely willing to buy games, by a factor of six over the second most popular category, tools and productivity.
  3. Oh yeah, in six months the Windows Phone marketplace doubled in size!

The moral of this story and my tip for retiring early: Build a game, charge for it, and get it in the Windows 8 store now!

Step 3: Leverage the Resources
Learning a new platform and paradigm is a challenge, we know that, and that’s why we’ve made and are continuing to make a wide variety of resources available to assist you in bringing your Windows 8 application to market. You’ll likely find your own goldmines among the documentation, blogs, screencasts, and more, but here’s my personal short list of must-have’s and must-do’s:

Generation AppSign up at Generation App for daily, digestible bits of content and links to guide you from concept to code. The program even provides consultations with real-live Windows 8 architects and designers!

Familiarize yourself with the Windows Store application requirements and terms of use.

Watch Jensen Harris’ Eight Traits of Great Metro Style Apps

Bookmark the Windows Dev Center – for documentation, samples, and community forums.

Reach out locally via my mini-meetups or just via e-mail, and keep tabs on my and Chris’ blog for other community events that you can be part of.

Be sure to check out my MSDN blog for deep dives on Windows 8 and cloud technologies and catch me on Twitter as well!

More Stories By Jim O'Neil

Jim is a Technology Evangelist for Microsoft who covers the Northeast District, namely, New England and upstate New York. He is focused on engaging with the development community in the area through user groups, code camps, BarCamps, Microsoft-sponsored events, etc., and just in general serve as ambassador for Microsoft. Since 2009, Jim has been focusing on software development scenarios using cloud computing and Windows Azure. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @jimoneil

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