The Windows [8] Store (and other App Store comments)

The world got a pretty good explanation of things yesterday and as far as my development is concerned I’m sold on the idea. I’m not sure which apps I’ll be porting or when (I still have nothing on the Mac App Store). What I specifically find intriguing is that 80/20 vs 70/30 split price break at USD25000. That’s a pretty small number. But there is one are in which I’m disappointed and hope I can be proven wrong.

Designed for discovery
Ensuring the visibility of apps and the efficiency and fluidity of app discovery became the fundamental building block of our Store design. We use minimal chrome so apps shine through, and complement the apps with a series of way-finding and promotion mechanisms—search, category browse, ranking lists, editorial curation — to help people find great apps.

Windows Store is designed for easy app discovery

We designed the landing page to push compelling apps to the surface. We use categories to help organize the apps—the latest, most popular, and fast rising apps all have dedicated lists surfaced here. You’ll see personalized app recommendations and also topic pages that promote apps related to editorial themes, helping surface what would otherwise be hidden gems.

Navigation is simple and consistent with the model of Windows 8. Built-in search supports directed discovery, fluid panning moves you through the categories, and category filters help locate the most relevant apps.

What they describe as “discovery” is no different from how Apple does it, and the App Store has decidedly poor discovery. The problem with both of these is that people buy things BECAUSE they’re in the top whatever, and thus stay at that position or at least in that decade.

There’s also the problem of “featured” sections. These are highly subjective and can probably be bought so some extent. For example, Apple often features big name apps that are terrible just so they can say “Look! iOS has Citrix support”. Apple or MS can also stuff this sections with their own apps as Apple did when Final Cut Pro X came out.

A few things all app stores need to do

  1. A very obvious setting to show/hide already purchased apps
  2. A way to hide apps for any reason whatsoever (purchased not through app store, sick of seeing something you’ll never buy, etc)
  3. Keep games out of the top overall rankings
  4. Differentiate between daily (current) and all time in lists.
  5. Keep lists long. If you use Apple’s xml feed, the lists go up to 400, but only 200 show in iTunes. Nothing wrong with a “next” button is there?

That’s obviously not going to fix much but basically what I think would help would be to make the “Genius” like features more upfront instead of a feature you have to choose to use. I think hiding apps and making ranking lists more relative would help a lot though. I don’t have too many apps to organize and even I find top-10 lists populated almost entirely with things I’ve already purchased.