More worryingly, MetroStore Scanner's data shows the pace of new app submissions grinding to a crawl. After hitting the 20,000 app mark near its one-month anniversary at the end of November, the Windows Store smashed the 35,000 app barrier on December 27. Between December 27 and January 23, however, only around 4,000 new apps were added to the marketplace. That's bad news for Microsoft, which needs exponential catalog growth--including a surge in high-quality apps--if it wants the Windows Store to be a selling point for the operating system. Microsoft isn't blind to the fact.
"While the number of apps in the Windows Store quadrupled, we clearly have more work to do," ZDNet reports Microsoft CFO Peter Klein saying during the company's quarterly conference call. "We need more rich, immersive apps that give users access to content that inform, entertains and inspires."
Areas to improve
In our one-month report card for Windows 8, we urged patience. After such a harsh holiday season, there's the tendency to panic, but Microsoft still cautions that this OS was built for the long haul, not the short term. "Clearly with a project this ambitious, it's not just one selling season, it will be the product of multiple selling seasons, and more progress to come," Windows business head Tami Reller said at CES.
She's right, of course, and her comments are echoed by Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft. "It's still early in the game, and Microsoft is pretty dedicated to making this happen, and will continue advertising to try and make it so," he told me via email.
Windows 8 still has breathing room. Both Gartner and IDC expect at least 350 million PCs to ship this year, and the overwhelming majority of those will ship with Windows 8 installed. Better yet, Windows 8 is faster and better than Windows 7 under the hood, and many of these lackluster grades could easily be improved with some minor tweaks. The Windows Store will only get better as time goes on. Many of the usability concerns could be squashed by releasing an update that restores the Start button and enables and option to boot straight to the desktop. If Microsoft does all that, a lot of the negative reactions currently bandied about could disappear overnight, leaving Windows 8's promotional future in the capable hands of those oh-so-slick TV commercials.