Apps World: Why developers can’t afford to miss the Windows 8 opportunity

The fact of the matter is; Windows is huge. There are 1.2 billion Windows users globally, with 690 million currently on Windows 7 who can upgrade to Windows 8 for £25 on October 26th. This is just the PCs. When you factor in the plethora of other devices from slates and phones to ultra-books and tablets on offer from a variety of manufacturers, Microsoft included, this is where the potential ecosystem gets even more exciting.

The idea of taking one device from home and leisure to work and enterprise with seamless continuity and the ability to sync content, system settings and app settings over multiple devices is also a tantalising thought.

As Aj Grand-Scrutton, CCO of Dlala studios, highlighted during his talk today on why he chose to develop games for Windows 8: “there are currently less than 400 games in the Windows App Store. This means, developers who are ahead of the pack can get unparalleled exposure for the forthcoming launch of Windows 8 on October 26th” and considering the exciting changes in the OS and the accessible £25 upgrade price point – uptake is expected to be notably high.

Here are some interesting and inspiring features that developers should consider when choosing to develop an app for Windows 8:

Smart connectivity

Windows can now run on devices it never has before right across the board. Whilst using a variety of network connection options, including; 3g, 4g, wireless and wired connectivity. Excitingly, developers will have the opportunity to use Windows 8’s knowledge of the user’s connectivity – i.e. whether they are on data and approaching their limit, currently on roaming or on unlimited high speed broadband – to create smarter apps that optimise for an adaptable awesome user experience.

A continuity focussed UX

You can now create applications that cater to a huge range of devices all running one OS that offers potentially seamlessly continuity between devices. The software stays the same and the devices can change but only if the user chooses to. One tablet can offer the connectivity of a classic PC with the portability and adaptability of the latest in mobile devices. How will your app move with users as they transfer from home and leisure to work and enterprise?

Apps take the limelight

When conducting tests on user experience Microsoft discovered that subjects who played on Windows 8 for an hour before being asked to sketch what they remembered from their session – the results produced sketches of apps and their content not tool bars, scroll bars and other previously iconic and memorable Windows visuals. These full screen, immersive applications make content the star, whatever the size of device being used. How will you make the most of the varying screen sizes to deliver and exciting experience across the platform?

Multiple revenue opportunities

The Windows 8 store has a standard revenue model delivering 70% to the app owner and 30% to Microsoft. Once an app exceeds $25k revenue there is a reward of a drop to just 20% going to Microsoft. You can also create an app which employs in-app purchasing or similar revenue models and keep all of the revenue from this particular stream.

Don’t get lost in the user’s app menu

There is a free cloud service for apps wishing to use push/pull notifications, how would you make the most of this service to keep users engaged and live tiles looking stunning and informative? You can even develop for the Lock Screen and engage users before they’ve even logged into the system.

Semantic zooming

The semantic zooming functionality of Windows 8 can be an opportunity to offer multiple detail levels of app content as a user zooms in and out – offering them a rich, streamlined experience.

It’s all about the way you interact

Perhaps your app can make the most of the Windows 8 touch options, such as; pen specific touch, which allows users to write and draw extremely accurately on the screen. Plus, going a step further, you can employ the pressure sensitivity to allow for more pronounced visuals that emulate real life interaction with pen and paper or brush and canvas as evidenced in the Fresh Paint app, already available in the store.

Location awareness

Location awareness comes built in to the OS, so why not take full advantage of the opportunities to include geo-tagging, maps, location specific content and more?

Open apps are friendly apps

By setting certain open data sharing parameters you can not only allow your app to interact with already existing apps such as email, Facebook and more but with apps published after yours, perhaps a future Myspace app will be your user’s favourite way of sharing your apps content. No problem, one installed it should automatically be able to share content from your app via the right hand side placed “Charms” menu in the OS. In what ways do you see your app playing with other apps?

Another platform = a developmental headache?

Quite the opposite! Not for those working in other languages or those developing for other platforms such as iOS and Android. The Windows 8 development platform is the same for .net javascript and C++ – even allowing apps to be built in HTML and CSS for you developers out there with a web background. There is an extremely low barrier to entry, using Visual Studio 2012 (express) plus Blend which are both available free. This is why you can’t afford to be just another Android or iOS developer (click the OS links for more info).

Feeling inspired? Submit your app idea for launch.

There are already some exciting apps in the Windows 8 Store such as Cocktail Flow and the FT.com apps. However, there’s still a huge opportunity to get in at the start for notable visibility for launch and as users begin upgrading and landing in the Windows Store. Wouldn’t it be great if they were landing on your app? As AJ says, “Submit to the Windows 8 store before next spring and you have a GREAT chance of doing really well”.

Want to be ready for launch?

You need to submit an app idea by the end of this week to get it published by the Windows 8 launch, so don’t miss out; submit your idea now and you’ll get loads of help and support.

Published by Liam

Liam is a new member of the Ubelly writing team. He has a background in web, online publishing and social media; spending his time tinkering with Wordpress, Foursquare, Facebook and his DSLR. He has a love for all things creative and visual.

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