Windows Store is an app store for Microsoft Windows, starting with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. It is the primary means of distributing Universal Windows Platform apps. Both free and paid apps can be distributed through Windows Store, with paid apps ranging in cost from US$0.99 to $999.99. Windows Store was first made available with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on February 29, 2012. Later in 2015, Windows Phone Store, Xbox Video and Xbox Music stores were merged into Windows Store.
As with other similar platforms, such as the Mac App Store and Google Play, Windows Store is curated and apps must be certified for compatibility and content. With all app sales, Microsoft takes 30% of the sale price. Prior to January 1, 2015, the cut was reduced to 20% after the developer's profits reached $25,000.
According to Microsoft, as of September 28, 2015, there are over 669,000 apps available on the Windows Store, which includes apps for Windows NT, Windows Phone, and Universal apps, which work on both platforms. Games, Entertainment, Books and Reference, and Education are the largest categories by number of apps and the majority of the app developers have 1 app.
Microsoft previously maintained a similar digital distribution system for software known as Windows Marketplace, which allowed customers to purchase software online and download it to their computer. Product keys and licenses were tracked by the platform, allowing users to retrieve their purchases when switching computers. Windows Marketplace was discontinued in November 2008.Microsoft first announced a digital distribution service for Windows at its presentation during the Build developer conference on September 13, 2011. Further details announced during the conference revealed that the store would be able to hold listings for both certified traditional Windows apps, as well as what was called "Metro-style apps" at the time: tightly-sandboxed software based on Microsoft design guidelines that are constantly monitored for quality and compliance. For consumers, Windows Store is intended to be the only way to obtain Metro-style apps. While announced alongside the "Developer Preview" release of Windows 8, Windows Store itself did not become available until the "Consumer Preview", released in February 2012.
An updated version of Windows Store was introduced in Windows 8.1. Its home page was remodeled to display apps in focused categories (such as popular, recommended, top free and paid, and special offers) with expanded details, while the ability for apps to automatically update was also added. Windows 8.1 Update also introduced other notable presentation changes, including increasing the top app lists to return 1000 apps instead of 100 apps, a 'picks for you' section, and changing the default sorting for reviews to be by 'most popular'
Windows Store serves as a unified storefront for Windows 10 on all platforms, offering apps, Groove Music (formerly Xbox Music) and Microsoft Movies & TV (formerly Xbox Video) purchases.
Web apps and desktop software (using either Win32 or .NET Framework) can be packaged for distribution on Windows Store. Desktop software distributed through Windows Store will be packaged using the App-V system to allow sandboxing.
Windows Store is the primary means of distributing Windows Store apps to users. Although sideloading apps from outside the store is supported, not all computers running Windows 8 can do it. Out-of-box sideloading support is only available for Windows 8 Enterprise computers that have joined a Windows domain. Sideloading on Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro computers as well as Windows 8 Enterprise computers without a domain affiliation requires purchase of additional licenses through volume licensing.Microsoft takes a 30% cut of app sales until it reaches US$25,000 in revenue, after which the cut drops to 20%. Third-party transactions are also allowed, of which Microsoft does not take a cut. Effective January 1, 2015, the reduction in cut at $25,000 will be removed, and Microsoft will take a 30% cut of all app purchases, regardless of overall sales.Individual developers are able to register for $19 USD and companies for $99 USD.Developers from 120 countries can submit apps to Windows Store. The app now can support any of 109 languages, as long as it supports one of 12 app certification languages.
Similar to Windows Phone Store, Windows Store is regulated by Microsoft. Applicants must obtain Microsoft's approval before their app becomes available on the store. Prohibited apps include those that:
Contain any adult content (i.e. content warranting the ESRB's "Adults Only" rating, or equivalents)
Advocate discrimination, hatred or violence based on membership in a particular racial, ethnic, national, linguistic, religious, or other social group, or based on a person’s gender, age, or sexual orientation
Contain content or functionality that encourages, facilitates or glamorizes illegal activity
Contain or display content that a reasonable person would consider to be obscene
Are defamatory, libelous or slanderous, or threatening
Encourage, facilitate or glamorize excessive or irresponsible use of alcohol or tobacco products, drugs or weapons
Encourage, facilitate or glamorize extreme or gratuitous violence, human rights violations or the creation or use of weapons against a person or animal in the real world
Contain excessive or gratuitous profanity
Microsoft has indicated that it does have the ability to remotely disable and/or remove apps from users' systems for security or legal reasons; in the case of paid apps, refunds may be issued if this were to occur.
Microsoft initially banned PEGI "18"-rated content from Windows Store in Europe. However, critics noted that some games carrying the "18" rating were actually rated "Mature" under the ESRB scale—making the content policies stricter than intended because PEGI 18 is not a direct equivalent to the ESRB's "Adults Only" rating. The guidelines were amended in December 2012 to remove the discrepancy.
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