July 27, 2012, 11:27 AM — As the deadline looms for the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has launched a virtual lab where developers can tap into virtual instances of the forthcoming operating system and practice writing Metro-style applications.
Microsoft Virtual Labs is free and offers 17 different online classes that can be completed in 90 minutes or so with topics ranging from application bars and media capture to the Windows Store. Individual sessions are tailored for the programming language the developer wants to use.
TEST YOURSELF: The Windows 8 Quiz
This is in addition to the live workshops Microsoft is running around the country in an effort to get developers proficient at building Metro apps and build up an apps inventory at the Windows Store.
The sheer volume of apps may be a concern for Microsoft. The store has about 400, which is probably more than any individual would want to use but pales compared to the 225,000-plus apps available for iPads, and the half million or so available for Android devices.
With an interface overhauled to work best on touchscreen devices, Windows 8 can't reach its full potential if it lacks applications customers want to use.
No 99-cent Metro apps
Microsoft announced the tiers at which developers will be able to set prices for their Windows 8 Metro applications to be sold in the Windows Store.
While iPad and Android users have become familiar with apps costing $.99, there will be no such bargain prices with Metro apps. The lowest tier is $1.49 and the highest publicly listed one is $4.99, although a Microsoft Web developers site says higher priced tiers are available.
On the plus side, the Windows Store will offer free one-week trials of any Metro app so customers can be sure they want to spring for the $1.49.
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