Windows Store and Cost of Selling Desktop Applications

Windows 8

TOKYO (MacHouse) – If you are a PC user, you probably know Microsoft will release Windows 8 at the end of this October. It’s pretty much obvious that the release of Windows 8 is nothing but their attempt to get people interested in the Metro design. Microsoft wants people to get used to the Metro design, hoping that they’ll also buy Windows phones and Windows-installed tablets. The traditional Start button is gone. And desktop users have to go through the tile screen, whether they like it or not.

Windows Metro
Source – MacHouse

Also, don’t forget that they are opening Windows Store. What is Windows Store? It’s a desktop application store that can be easily accessible from the tile screen. You may have heard that Microsoft will get the 30% share while software developers get the 70% of the revenue by selling their applications at Windows Store. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s not exactly the same as Apple‘s Mac App Store, though. How are they different? We will get to that in a minute.  

A big mistake that Microsoft is currently making is that they want to start everything at the same time. They want to introduce Windows 8. They want to start Windows Store. They want to sell a new version of Visual Studio. If you are a software developer and wants to sell your applications, you must be frustrated because… Windows 8 is not ready yet. Windows Store is not ready, either. I’m not sure if enrollment is already open. It was closed at the beginning of the month. Is Visual Studio 2012 available yet? No, it’s not.

If you are planning to sell your software products at Windows Store, you must be already aware that there are two groups of software titles – Metro style applications and desktop applications. Nice things you might have heard about Windows Store like an automatic transaction process, in-app purchases, running an ad, giving a trial period, only apply to Metro style applications. Desktop applications are treated quite differently. In this blog article, Microsoft makes it clear that desktop application developers are left to exchange transactions with customers on their own. If you submit a desktop application to Windows Store, Microsoft will only introduce it, providing a link to your web site. Instead of pressing a Buy button, customers click on a link that says Go to developer’s website. So you need a web site. Accepting payments is a problem when you want to sell software products. Another problem involves the delivery of a product after you receive a payment.

Now, let’s quickly see the cost of selling one or more desktop application at Windows Store. There is an enrollment fee. Microsoft offers two types of accounts (individual account and company account). And desktop software developers can only get the latter, which costs $99. Unlike Apple’s Mac Developer Program, it’s just a registration fee, meaning it doesn’t include a certificate. A certificate? Right… You have to code-sign your applications. That’s another $99. Initially, Microsoft seems to have indicated that they charge $499. They clearly state here that it’s now $99. So it’s not terribly expensive. You also need a web site. Running a web site can cost you $50 a year or more. Plus, you need web software to handle digital delivery. That’s another 50 bucks or more.

Note that you cannot use an existing digital certificate to code-sign your desktop applications. You must purchase one exclusively from VeriSign. So it’s a tying contract and it could be a violation of Clayton Act since VeriSign acts as a monopoly. That is, in order to buy a service (Windows Store enrollment), you are forced to buy another product (VeriSign’s certificate), which U.S. Anti-Trust Law prohibits. However, unless you can prove that an average market price for a digital certificate is consistently lower than $99, the U.S. government probably won’t bother.

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