Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

Summary: The Metro apps that will run on Windows 8 systems look like apps on other mobile platforms. Consumers may expect similar pricing as a result.

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More details about Windows 8 are getting revealed since Microsoft shared a lot about the next OS at the recent BUILD conference. Many are puzzling over the schizophrenic nature of Windows 8 and its ability to run "desktop" apps alongside the "Metro" apps with those fancy live tiles. Microsoft confirmed that Metro apps will only be available for purchase through its app store with a 30 percent cut of sales. This leads to the question of how customers will perceive Metro apps. Are they mobile apps or computer apps?

This distinction is significant, as customers of mobile apps treat them differently than computer apps. Users have no problem spending decent cash for computer apps that do what they need, but the opposite has been proven with mobile apps. Those apps are either very cheap (even a buck), or even free with in-app purchases providing the business model. This has been the case with iOS apps, and it is expected it will be the case with Android when data is available. The latter only recently enabled in-app purchases so it's too early to tell.

Distimo has been following the mobile app situation closely, and in a recent report stated that a whopping 72 percent of revenue generated by iOS apps comes from in-app purchases. The apps are given away by the developer to get the apps in customers' hands, and then sell stuff inside the app. The freemium model is becoming the proper business model for mobile apps in iOS, and will likely be the case with Android apps.

Windows 8 developers planning on producing Metro apps should be thinking about this. While the Metro interface will be on all Windows 8 systems, it is the interface that is optimized for tablets. It is only natural that consumers will expect apps to be similar in cost to those on other tablets. Developers that release a $50 Metro app may find it compared to a $3 iPad app, and that isn't going to play well.

The decision of Microsoft to make Windows 8 run on all classes of devices may end up hurting the developers of Metro apps due to the public perception. It is not clear how this might play out in the real world, and that requires a leap of faith by Metro app developers just getting started.

Image credit: Distimo

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Topics: Operating Systems, CXO, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, Windows

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  • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

    Why is it all Zdnet's post have a question mark at the end?<br><br>PS. We come here for answers from the so called experts, not questions.
    Now it's just all opinion and confusing non facts.
    Return_of_the_jedi
    • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

      @Return_of_the_jedi I'm sorry you hate that but this is a legitimate question that all Windows 8 Metro app developers better be asking. It is very pertinent.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

        @JamesKendrick <br><br>My point is, with Win8 we need more specifics. The more I read for the "experts" the more confusing it becomes.<br><br>Will desktop apss run on Win8. Dunno, depends on who you ask. Nobody knows.
        Return_of_the_jedi
      • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

        @JamesKendrick I agree James, while ending an article with a question mark may bother some readers, there's often a good reason to do that. As you say, the question you brought up is pertinent and you're as open to an answer as anyone else. Not saying I'm always a fan of your columns but I do read them and I think you handled what is clearly an open issue appropriately. I've been trying out Win 8 and frankly, I love it. But I would be concerned about the cost of software/apps at final release.
        xplorer1959
    • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

      @Return_of_the_jedi I am more of a neutral person as I do lot of Win32 - low level stuff - for a living. However, I have seen many 2 or 3 year old kids use an iPhone, iPod or iPad WITHOUT EVER SEEING A USER GUIDE OR MANUAL. I have seen some kids pick up the same app in an iPhone and an iPad without any hesitation. If MS can do that, then they will succeed. Stevie Wonder just recently praised Steve Jobs for Voice Over, he said that the iPad/iPhone leveled the playing field for the blind. Is Windows8 similar to iPhone/iPad? Can people use it without ever looking at any guide or manual? Remember, all Windows users currently have been either taught the initial steps by somebody or read a user guide/manual.
      GoForTheBest
      • My daughter wasn't taught

        @iRMX

        And she has no problem using Windows. She's 5 now so she started about the time Windows 7 came out. She has no problem with Windows. She has no problem with my phone, WP7. She had no problem with Android.

        Citing children as an ease of use study is silly. Children aren't afraid of new computing devices the way the adults seem to be. They don't need to be taught. They will learn and adapt without hesitation. That's the beauty of being a child. The first time she used my laptop, when she was 3, she asked where the mouse was. I told her it was the touchpad. I didn't have to show her what to do, it immediately made sense to her and she didn't skip a beat. That's what children do.
        LiquidLearner
  • Office guys go nuts

    Good catch. This effect will of course include Microsoft Office, which is not only one of the Sacred Cows, it is one of the sacred Cash Cows. Is Microsoft really willing to sell Excel for ten bucks? I think we all know that the answer is 'no' but how bad does a knockoff have to be before people will reject it when the price difference between the Microsoft product and the knockoff exceeds fifty bucks?<br><br>Apple has been pretty open about allowing non-Apple competition to its own office-like software in the App store. Will Microsoft do the same, or will they try to keep Office competitors from getting access to customers?
    Robert Hahn
    • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

      @Robert Hahn Apple has not been very open about allowing competition for music in it's app store though. That should answer your question.
      vegaramos
  • Dumbest question ever

    It all depends on what the app does. Should a simple photo viewer/editor cost $50? No, and if an app developer demands that price than they probably won't sell a single copy of it. Its called a MARKET. Demand/Supply will have a natural impact on the prices developers can charge for an app.<br><br>Also, if its a rich and high level production app that provides for a specialized level of data reading and editing, then of course the developer can charge more. This isn't rocket science.<br><br>Also, a Windows 8 Tablet does not equate to an iPad or Android tablet. Its functionality goes far beyond a glorified smartphone like its "competitors" and therefore there will more expensive apps available most likely. The Tablet is simply the evolution of the Laptop. The iPad, while a good product, is a very niche market. Blowing $600 on a device that can do less than a $300 netbook isn't exactly what the majority of people are looking for.<br><br>Just because its a touch focus app, doesn't equate it to all the current "mobile" apps.
    spaulagain2
    • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

      @spaulagain Many sophisticated apps exist for mobile platforms, and they have to sell dirt cheap. Good mind-mapping programs can be had on every mobile platform for <$10. That is my point, that similar apps on Windows 8 are going to have to compete in price.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

        @JamesKendrick Exactly, "similar apps" is the key and the point @spaulagain was making. If you make an app similar to a 'mobile' app you can expect to get as much for it.
        Skippy99
      • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

        @JamesKendrick yes but it is just not price, it is the market you now have easy access to, maybe you didn't before. somebody had to walk to a store. find your website. and also on iOS there are many specialist apps in the hundreds of dollars + range. So iOS is just not all cheap apps.
        eatredmeatfeelgood@...
      • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

        @JamesKendrick

        Frankly the mind mapping programs are overpriced and sorry they don't even come close to complex programming. The functionality and usage will set the price.
        tonymcs@...
    • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

      @spaulagain I find it amazing how many people who have still never owned a tablet keep saying a Windows 8 tablet goes far beyond an Android or iOS tablet in functionality. The functionality of a tablet is entirely based upon the applications you can get for it. So far, I have found multiple applications for every task I've ever dreamed up, no matter how obscure the interest. I edit Word and Excel documents. I check stocks. I work with WordPress. I access my Windows desktop via RDP. I do hundreds of different things that I never bothered doing with my desktop because finding an application for it would have been too much trouble. There are even applications which literally have no equivalent available on any desktop.

      I think people just can't grasp what having 120,000 instantly-available tablet applications really means. It means an incredible amount of functionality in a thin, light, package with all-day battery life. It means you can be sitting in a waiting room at the dentist, decide you want a recipe program, and actually try out six of them before your name is called. This amount of functionality has never been available on anything before.

      You mention that a $300 netbook runs Windows but a $600 tablet doesn't. Does your $300 netbook have a capacitive touch screen and 12+ hours of battery life at 1.6 pounds? Seriously, I already had a netbook. I completely stopped using it the day I got a tablet. Sorry, but the tablet does a lot more without needing Windows. You may have yourself convinced otherwise, but having used both, I can assure you that you are incorrect.

      By the way, if price is really that important to you, you are going to be severely disappointed when you see the prices of equivalent Windows 8 tablets. I guarantee they will cost more than a $300 netbook and $600 tablet combined. In fact, you will likely be able to buy two of any other tablet for the price of one Windows 8 tablet.

      I admit, I'm going to have a bit of fun laughing at all the folks who pay $1200 for a slim Windows 8 ARM tablet, take it home, try to run an existing application on it and find that it won't run because Windows 8 on ARM tablets won't run existing applications. I'll laugh just as hard at the folks lugging around thick, sluggish, $1500+, 3 pound, Intel-based tablets with 5 hour battery life, just so they CAN run existing Windows applications - albeit very slowly. Intel knows this and it's why they are trying to push vendors toward selling ultra-portables instead of tablets. People expect less from a laptop than they do from a tablet. Less battery life. Less portability.

      Reality check - Running fat applications on a fat OS will require a fat tablet with a fat price. Everyone who thinks otherwise is in for a big shock when these things finally appear next year.

      The apparently difficult to grasp moral of all this? You don't need Windows to get stuff done. The applications and ease of access to those applications are what really matter. Existing tablets already have far more than most people will ever need without the weight, short battery life, or high price of Windows. Fat is out. Lean is in.
      BillDem
      • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

        @BillDem
        "I access my Windows desktop via RDP."

        So, everything can't REALLY be handled by your tablet. Like all products, a 'tablet PC' won't be for everyone. It will be a nice alternative to those who prefer to have all of their applications with them; especially for travel and other times that connectivity isn't reliable, cost effective, or even available.
        techwatcher
      • Windows 8 is lean & mean!

        @BillDem With a Windows 8 ARM tablet you will get the benefits of both mobile & Desktop experiences with all-day battery life and super performance!
        MSFTWorshipper
      • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

        @BillDem <br>Any operating system that allows direct access to the file system and can connect to network shares goes way beyond an iPad. If you're using a tablet predominantly, you clearly don't have any need to be truly productive, because your WPM is cut by a factor of 10. However, if you have trouble finding PC applications, you deserve iOS.
        wraith404
      • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

        @BillDem
        Yes, you are absolutely right. Unless one buys a tablet how would they know if its useful or not and YOU have used both, netbook and a tablet. So what you are saying is right, very right.
        Dude, you are typical fanboy who does the typical things on his tablet like, send one line emails, facebook, twitter, angry bird, listen to music etc...
        No one is expecting you to understand usage of computers more than that. So stop writing these essays about your precious opinion and let other people say that they have to say than criticizing.
        vega799@...
      • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

        @BillDem
        Yes, you are absolutely right. Unless one buys a tablet how would they know if its useful or not and YOU have used both, netbook and a tablet. So what you are saying is right, very right.
        Dude, you are typical fanboy who does the typical things on his tablet like, send one line emails, facebook, twitter, angry bird, listen to music etc...
        No one is expecting you to understand usage of computers more than that. So stop writing these essays about your precious opinion and let other people say that they have to say than criticizing.
        vega799@...
      • RE: Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

        @BillDem
        "edit Word and Excel documents. I check stocks. I work with WordPress. I access my Windows desktop via RDP. I do hundreds of different things that I never bothered doing with my desktop because finding an application for it would have been too much trouble. "

        Ah yes - such obscure uses for a PC. How would you ever find software to handle *MS Office* documents, RDP, or check stocks?! What ever did we do before the iPad?

        Seriously? Did you try to pick those examples to make your argument look the most ridiculous?

        I "can" edit Word/Excel files and RDP to servers on my iPad as well - doesn't mean it's not incredibly painful to do so. When I have absolutely nothing else, sure - it's nice to have the option. But I still carry around my netbook with me for a reason.

        And what is this nonsense about a $1200 ARM Win8 tablet or $1500 x86? Why, a year from now, would tablet prices *double*?

        http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/acer-acer-iconia-32gb-tablet-with-keyboard-dock-station-w500-bz607-silver-w500-bz607/10168308.aspx?path=b223c7de23dd790373bbe0dbf9553edeen02

        That's a Win7 home premium tablet from Acer - $599. 2 gigs, 32GB SSD, keyboard dock station, dual-core AMD C50 with integrated GPU. It's not a barnburner performance-wise (albeit the AMD's integrated graphics blow away Intel's), but the point is that it is selling *now* for $599.

        Pricing and size/weight of Win8 tablets is not going to be an issue, Intel and AMD are very aggressively targeting the ultra low-power segment and I would actually be surprised 2 years from now if there's really a market for ARM Windows, the gap in performance/watt will narrow significantly in the coming period.

        Win8's problem will not be the availability of hardware to run it, it will be trying to meld its two interfaces so that they make sense. Right now they do not. Win8's biggest challenge is MS's "vision" at the moment.
        Nitz_Walsh