Windows Store finally breaks 40,000 app milestone

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Microsoft's Windows 8 app selection may still be of somewhat dubious quality overall, but Microsoft deserves a pat on the back for making strides on the quantity front. The Windows Store has finally cracked the 40,000 app milestone, according to the unofficial count at MetroStore Scanner.

The global tally stands at 40,158 apps after 302 new apps were introduced yesterday.

MetroStore Scanner
The grey line shows the total app count; the bar graphs show the number of new (blue) and updated (green) apps submitted each day.

While 40,000 apps is a notable milestone, it's well short of the 100,000 apps that one overly ambitious Microsoft VP estimated would be available at the three-month mark, and far behind the 700,000-plus apps available for both iOS and Android.

More concerning is the reduced pace at which new Windows 8 apps have been landing in the Windows Store now that its honeymoon period is over. After crossing the 20,000 app barrier one month after launch and 35,000 apps the month after that, only 5,000 new apps (give or take a handful) were introduced between December 27 and January 28 by MetroStore Scanner's count.

Numbers alone won't make or break the Windows Store, however. Given the virtually insurmountable lead Google and Apple already hold in sheer volume, Microsoft needs to double down on the quality of apps if it wants to make its platform stand out from the crowd.

Unfortunately, the Windows Store lags there, too. Many big-name "must-have" apps have yet to put in an appearance on Microsoft's fledgling platform, and some of the first-tier apps that arein the Windows Store lack the bells and whistles of their desktop counterparts. (I'm looking at you, Evernote and SugarSync.)

"We clearly have more work to do," CFO Peter Klein said during the Microsoft's recent quarterly earnings call. "We need more rich, immersive apps that give users access to content that informs, entertains, and inspires."

Shifting gears and buying support

windows store
The Windows Store badly needs more "spotlight" apps.

Microsoft's working hard to woo developers to the Windows Store and already subsidizes development up the wazoo, but the company has stopped short of doling out cold, hard cash in exchange for apps. Is it time for that to change? Research in Motion has been dishing out financial incentives left and right to spark BlackBerry 10 app development, and the investment seems to be paying off.

RIM offered developers $100 for every (approved) app submitted during a recent "Port-a-thon" event, which resulted in a whopping 15,000 BlackBerry app submissions in the course of a single weekend. More than 19,000 additional apps were submitted the following weekend as the deadline for RIM's "$10,000 guarantee" loomed. That's right: The monetary incentives encouraged developers to submit almost as many apps as can be found in the entire Windows Store over a two-weekend period, and as such, RIM expects at least 70,000 BlackBerry 10 apps to be available when the new operating system launches tomorrow.

Kudos to Microsoft for breaking the 40,000 app barrier, but the quantity and quality of apps available in the Windows Store still needs to increase exponentially before Windows RT can ever be considered a truly viable operating system. Considering the snail's pace at which Windows 8 app submissions have been crawling in since the holiday rush, Microsoft may just need to bite the bullet and reach into its pockets to make that happen.

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