2013: The Year of Unification

As 2013 comes to a close, I want to take a moment to reach out and thank all of you for your support of the Windows platform over the past year. I continue to be amazed by the apps you create, and I appreciate your ongoing feedback. Hearing from you helps us improve our platform, tools and the Store experience to best show off your creations. Thank you.

Over the past years, the ability to use apps on a variety of devices (phone, tablet, and PC) and in different contexts has become more important as the world becomes ever more connected. As users spend increasing amounts of time on their devices and using your apps, it is critical that users are not simply satisfied but delighted.

To achieve the ultimate goal of delighting our users across the world, we have not wavered from our mission to provide a confident, convenient, and customized app experiences, and provide developers with the tools and environment to rapidly innovate and maximize their opportunity.

Creating opportunities for developers

We’ve focused our efforts this year on three key areas to create developer opportunity:

1. Unification: Creating a shared experience for all devices – phone, tablet, PC – that access the platform increases your opportunity to reach the maximum number of potential users. In addition, users are engaging with the Store more frequently, with transaction volume up 3x year-over-year, and 12M transactions per day heading into a busy holiday season. Although we made a number of improvements throughout the year, the biggest change came in November with the release of the unified Windows and Windows Phone registration experience. This single, lower-cost registration workflow makes it much easier for you to address an even larger base of users across device types and located in over 190 markets.

2. Faster development: This year we focused on lowering the time and effort required to build better apps and games for the Windows platform. We partnered with leading providers to expand support for middleware tools and solutions – Unity, Marmalade, Corona Labs – to give developers incentive and tools to port already popular apps and games to the platform. We launched a major update to Visual Studio, as well as Windows 8.1. We introduced a new Developer Preview program to give Windows Phone developers access to the latest builds for testing, and we released tools for novice developers, which include Windows Phone App Studio Beta and Project Siena for Windows enterprise app development.

3. Monetization and engagement: To be a successful app developer, you need a set of flexible business models and your users need a wide range of payment options. This year we added and saw rapid adoption of the in-app purchase model. We’ve seen a steady increase in usage – in-app purchase currently represents nearly half of the download-to-own revenue in the Store. Advertising continues to be a popular business model, and this past year Microsoft Advertising began making investments in third-party ad networks to increase Windows Phone ad inventory and revenue. It also released enhanced reporting to give you insights into ad performance by market to help you optimize revenue.

In addition to business models, it is equally important to expand payment options that make it easy for users to pay for apps via their local, trusted source. New this holiday season are Microsoft and Xbox gift cards, distributed via retail stores and sales promotions from Microsoft and its partners. Windows Store gift cards make it easy for users to purchase apps from the Windows Store or the Windows Phone Store in more than 100 retail stores, in 41 markets. We’ve also tripled the number of carrier billing connections for Windows Phone Store users, for a total of 53 connections in 33 markets. This represents a significant opportunity for monetization – carrier billing can increase transaction volume by 6x in emerging markets where credit card penetration is low.

2013 saw first steps toward convergence, and continued investment in lowering development cost while expanding business opportunity. 2014 will see even more. I will continue to say it – there has never been a better time to develop for the Windows platform.

I want to thank you again for your support of the Windows platform and for all the amazing apps you create that delight users each and every day. Happy Holidays, everyone!