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Microsoft to Launch Windows 8 Beta, Windows Store in February

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Microsoft confirmed Tuesday evening that it would launch the beta program for the latest version of its Windows operating system in late February. It will open the doors on the Windows Store at the same time.

Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president of Windows Web Services at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), made the announcement at a Windows Store Preview event in San Francisco.

The Windows Store will be a new feature in Windows 8, which will be a unified platform intended to support both PCs and tablets. Taking a cue from the Apple App Store, the Windows Store will be the distribution hub for Metro apps (Metro is the new interface for Windows 8 that will replace the Start Menu).

Developers have been clamoring to know the specifics of the Windows Store business model, and Leblond on Tuesday shed a bit of light on it.

It will cost $49 to register an individual Windows Store developer account and $99 for a business. As with the Apple App Store, developers will be paid 70 percent revenue share on the first $25,000 earned by an app. However, to sweeten the pot for developers, they will earn 80 percent of every dollar of revenue after surpassing that $25,000 threshold.

Leblond said Microsoft also wants to be flexible in its support of developers. He said it would offer a robust transaction platform, but also allows them to use alternate transaction services if they prefer. The Windows Store would also support multiple advertising platforms.

Microsoft said price tiers would set the price of apps. Tiers will be available from $1.49 and in increments of 50 cents to $4.99. Higher tiers will also be available.

“We have full platform support for free apps, trials (both time-based and feature-based trials) and paid apps, including in-app purchase,” said Ted Dworkin, partner program manager for the Windows Store. “And we have sales analytics that will help you target customers more effectively. That said, developers could also choose to manage their customer transactions directly, for example, with newspaper subscriptions, or to adopt a business model with offline fulfillment, such as for auctions. We don’t mandate a specific transaction engine and developers can use their own. They can also choose the ad control that works best for them.”

During the beta period, though, the store will only support free apps. It won’t support paid apps on the transaction platform until a future milestone.

Dworkin also noted that Microsoft is trying to make the app certification process as transparent as possible for developers.

“We want to increase predictability and eliminate any capriciousness in app certification,” he said. “We do this by providing every developer with the technical certification assessments—the App Certification Kit —as part of the SDK. We also provide app acceptance guidance, in plain language, in our app certification policies. The App Certification Kit and the SDK are included when you download the Windows 8 Developer Preview.”

Furthermore, “We’ll give feedback to developers whose apps are rejected, so they can address the issues quickly and resubmit the app for publication. Our app certification policies are now published, and are organized around just a few, clear precepts. We designed the policies to help ensure quality and predictability in core app behaviors while enabling innovation and differentiation in app experiences.”

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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