January 5, 2016 4:55 pm

Windows 10 Store Growth Creates New Developer Opportunity in 2016

As we welcome 2016, I thought it only fitting to provide an update on our progress since the Windows 10 launch on July 29.

As announced yesterday, over 200 million PCs, tablets and phones across the globe are now running Windows 10, the fastest growth trajectory of any version of Windows, outpacing Windows 7 by nearly 140% and Windows 8 by nearly 400%. And, accounting for 67% of all Store downloads across PC and tablet in December.

These new Windows 10 customers are discovering and engaging with the Store at a higher rate than ever before with over 3 Billion Store visits since the Windows 10 launch. While it’s early yet, the promise of Windows 10 is beginning to pay off. Over the holiday selling season, we saw a 2x increase in the number of paid transactions from PC and tablet customers over last year. Looking at the month of December, 60% of those paying customers were new to the Store, with Windows 10 generating 4.5x more revenue per device, as compared to Windows 8.

Both the growth of Windows 10 customer base and the increase in customer engagement (both with the Store and with the apps themselves) will enable us to deliver on our promise of providing a platform where developers can find growing success. For some of you, that means finding new success on the PC, and for others, Windows 10 represents an opportunity to bring your existing code to 200 million, and growing, devices. Recently, NPR and several other partners shared some highlights of their Windows 10 results:

“Seventy percent of NPR listeners use Windows devices, and we’ve seen a 50-percent increase in their listening time just since Windows 10 came out. And that was before we upgraded our app.”

— Ben Schein, Product Manager at NPR

In addition, Box recently shared their positive experiences developing for the Universal Windows Platform, while providing an experience for their users, regardless of the version of Windows they might be using:

“By combining the two apps in Windows 10 as a universal Windows app, it decreased our engineering overhead, and increased our velocity for future iterations. We’re really excited about this.”

— Lois Wang, Senior Product Manager at Box

As we begin 2016, our focus remains unchanged. We will continue to drive Windows 10 adoption and make investments in these 5 areas to help developers be successful:

  1. Expanded payment options. To enable a broad range of customers to purchase your apps, we are expanding carrier billing to Windows 10 PCs and tablets, in addition to phones. This investment is especially important, as roughly 88% of the world’s population does not have a credit card (Source: World Bank, 2014). Customers need only enter their mobile phone number to purchase via any Windows 10 device. This capability was released for the Windows 10 platform in mid-November and is now live with O2 in Germany, Swisscom in Switzerland and Sprint in the US, with a robust pipeline of new connections planned in 2016. While these connections have just come online, early results show a 40% increase in operator billed sales. Carrier billing rounds out a range of payment options beyond credit cards: Alipay, PayPal, traditional gift cards, digital gifting and Bitcoin (US only).
  2. Enhanced monetization. We also continue to simplify and expand monetization models available to developers. With Windows 10, ad mediation is now available across PC, tablet and phone, enabling those of you who monetize with advertising to maximize your fill rate and grow revenue. In November, we announced a partnership with Vungle to offer in-app video ads. Over the coming months we will also begin testing new subscription capabilities announced at Build 2015, piloting the capability with a few partners and expanding availability based on the feedback we receive. We now also offer capabilities to enable you to more easily track and optimize your monetization strategy.
  3. Increased app discoverability. We’ve taken a number of actions to help users discover high quality apps, including the new Windows Store UI, algorithms and in-product app promotion, as well as the addition of a new Deals Hub app and Collection in the Store. We’ve also begun investing in a regular cadence of cross-Store sales and promotions to drive traffic, including the recent 10 days of 10-cent deals over the Black Friday holiday and Countdown to 2016, both of which contributed to this year’s strong holiday results. You can expect a full line-up of promotions and marketing activities in 2016. And, with the new Windows Store Affiliate Program, you can run your own promotions and earn additional revenue.

    For those of you with apps tailored toward organizational users, Windows 10 is also seeing rapid adoption with organizations, and the new Windows Store for Business provides an excellent way to reach them. Over 76% of Microsoft’s global enterprise customers are now in active pilots of Windows 10, with more than 22 million devices running Windows 10 across enterprise and education organizations. The new Windows Store for Business, launched in mid-November and offering free content in select markets, is in pilot with several thousand enterprise, education and small business organizations today. By the spring, this new storefront will be available in over 30 markets for distribution of free apps with paid app support coming later this calendar year.
  4. Existing code welcome. Whether you’re an experienced Windows app developer or just getting started, we want to make it easy to bring your app or game to the Store. To that end, we’re building a number of Windows Bridges to more quickly expand your reach to the Universal Windows Platform. Two toolkits shipped in 2015, and more are coming in 2016.
    • For web developers, you can quickly package your existing web site into Windows 10 hosted web apps. Once packaged, your server-based code can use the Store for discovery and distribution, and you can extend your code to use Windows device capabilities, notifications and monetization. I highly suggest taking 5 minutes in Windows App Studio to try your adaptive design website as a Windows app to see how easy it really is.
    • Windows Phone Silverlight developers were delighted to see the release of Mobilize.NET’s Silverlight bridge in late 2015. This bridge is an API mapping tool that eases migration of existing Windows Phone 8 projects to the Universal Windows Platform, enabling distribution to all devices running Windows 10.
    • We open-sourced the Windows Bridge for iOS to GitHub under an MIT license, making it possible to use Objective-C to build native UWP apps, as well as making it easier to reuse your iOS code on Windows 10. Since release, the team has been providing regular updates, with ARM support targeted for preview later this month.
    • Lastly, we continue to work with numerous partners to ensure that Windows 10 is a deployment option for those using cross-platform tools and game engines such as Unity and Marmalade.
  5. And finally – get more done in fewer steps. We’ve made a good deal of progress to minimize the app submission and management flows since Build 2015 starting with the convergence of the Windows Phone and Windows Dev Centers in addition to adding pubCenter for Microsoft Advertising. We’ve enhanced reporting and app promotion capabilities, and added sale pricing and most recently added support for multiple users within a single Dev Center account with roles – the number one request from all of you. Later this week we will begin the next phase in the rollout of the new single age rating workflow, based on the global rating and age classification system, IARC.

While we have much more work to do, we’ve delivered a number of new capabilities and tools since Build 2015 and the Windows 10 launch. We hope you’ll take the plunge in 2016 and update your existing apps to Windows 10 and bring that idea for a new app to the Windows platform. Happy New Year!

Updated January 5, 2016 5:35 pm

Join the conversation

  1. My company’s app is rated better than all other Casino apps in Top Free, Top Rated, and in Casino Collection. Yet our app is not listed in any of those three lists.

    We can’t do UA efficiently on your store. We can on every other appstore. If you can fix UA, our company will spend as much as we can advertising for your users because our WinRT ARPU is great.
    If you can fix your Store rankings, we may not have to spam your appstore with 50 clones of our app.

    I’m Seattle-local. Happy to meet. PhilSp knows how to contact me.

    • @Ted,

      Thanks for your comments, we are looking to improve search and discoverability, so in order to help understand the reason for the problems with search, could you open a support ticket in Dev Center, and include the following information?

      – When was the app published (it takes up to 24 hours for the deep link to work, and can take a few days for search to find an app)
      – What is the App ID?
      – Confirm if the app visible through deep link, and what URL is being used to search?
      – If the app is accessible through deep link, but not through search, share the words being used to search

      Bernardo Zamora
      Windows Store

  2. Unfortunately I get the impression that blog entries like these (November Improvements in Dev Center, Windows 10 Store Growth in 2016, etc.) are too detached from app developers’ reality.

    Which I find very unfortunate, as I’m actually fully convinced that light is shed on great improvements and developments in these blog entries. And that the Windows platform is absolutely exciting for developers.

    But how can all this be taken serious, when each of these Microsoft blog entries emphasizes the improved app discoverability in the Windows store, when at the same time since the beginning of the Windows 10 store MSDN forums and the wpdev user voice platform are spilling over with negative feedback from developers about app discoverability and the Windows Store search and ranking algorithms. Some developer even got so desperate as to start a petition on change.org.

    Among those who provide this feedback are very renowned app developers, whose apps are among the most popular and best rated on the Windows store, and yet so far I have not come across a single reaction to this feedback from Microsoft.

    The problems that keep being mentioned in this developer feedback are manifold:
    1. Intransparent full or partial exclusion of apps from discoverability in the Store
    1.a Full exclusion: The app cannot be found within the Store at all. The only way of accessing the app is via the app’s store URL
    1.b Partial exclusion: The app can be found within the store, but only by its name, not by any keywords or other descriptive text
    2. Questionable search results/ranking, where apps unrelated to a search term or filter category, or apps with few or bad user rankings are top results, whereas matching apps with good ratings can only be found far down in the list of search results or not at all

    All this could still be acceptable to some degree if there was some communication from Microsoft’s side. Some transparency. Which is absolutely not the case. Developer over developer keeps stating that all the feedback they get from Microsoft is that the Store algorithms work as intended. No clues whatsoever as to the criteria to be met in order to prevent apps from store discoverability exclusion, or from bad rankings in store listings.

    It is not at all surprising that this upsets many developers. Personally I do not understand how Microsoft thinks it can afford to treat developers like this. It is obvious that the Windows platform needs to be attractive for developers in order not to lose its relevance. And blog entries like this one highlight several of these attractive aspects.

    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. My impression is: Month after month you are presenting some really strong and attractive links here. But for some, to me inexplicable reason, the weakest link, app discoverability in the store, is being ignored.

    • @Ted,

      Thanks for your comments, we are looking to improve search and discoverability, so in order to help understand the reason for the problems with search, could you open a support ticket in Dev Center, and include the following information?

      – When was the app published (it takes up to 24 hours for the deep link to work, and can take a few days for search to find an app)
      – What is the App ID?
      – Confirm if the app visible through deep link, and what URL is being used to search?
      – If the app is accessible through deep link, but not through search, share the words being used to search

      In parallel of sorting through this specific issue, I wanted to share that we are aware of the search ranking issues and are working to improve the relevancy.

      Bernardo Zamora
      Windows Store

  3. While I’m excited for the store and bringing my app to the store I have some issues.

    My app has been live in the store for weeks but it does not show in the category that I placed it. Nor can I find the app through search unless I enter the exact name of the app. So none of the keywords (all related) show the app in the results. No similar keywords work either.

    In short the app is completely invisible to all 200 million users unless they follow a direct link from my website or search the exact app name. Nobody will download it if they can’t even see it.

    • @Randall,

      Thanks for your comments, we are looking to improve search and discoverability, so in order to help understand the reason for the problems with search, could you open a support ticket in Dev Center, and include the following information?

      – When was the app published (it takes up to 24 hours for the deep link to work, and can take a few days for search to find an app)
      – What is the App ID?
      – Confirm if the app visible through deep link, and what URL is being used to search?
      – If the app is accessible through deep link, but not through search, share the words being used to search

      Bernardo Zamora
      Windows Store

  4. 200M is a great (and yet expected) accomplishment. However, there are 3-3.5 BILLION devices in today’s marketplace. For a developer or team to reach all of these devices, they must resort to building multiple versions of the same application. Even if Windows 10 reaches 1 billion installs (and it should — it’s pretty awesome), it will still not possess total market reach, which is an expensive problem for developers and the organizations that employ them. To reach the total device market, a developer will not only need to build a Windows 10 app to reach its share of (ultimately by 2018) 1B devices, but also an iOS and Droid to reach the remaining ~2-2.5B in the native space. Then there is the web space that reaches all if not most of the 3-3.5B devices. So, for the developer/organization that wants to efficiently and effectively reach all devices, that means 4 resulting code bases (Windows, iOS, Droid, and web) to build an maintain. Expensive. MSFT stands to make a lot of money from developers by solving this challenging and costly business problem. If you are a developer (or shareholder), please vote for them to do exactly that here: http://visualstudio.uservoice.com/forums/121579-visual-studio-2015/suggestions/10027638-create-a-ubiquitous-net-client-application-develo

    • @Michael – Microsoft is working on several fronts to help drive down the cost of creating apps that are both universal across Windows devices (Windows 10 and the Universal Windows Platform are the best recent signs of this), and also across platforms via partnerships (with folks such as Xamarin and Unity) and via direct engineering investments (our awesome Cordova tooling in VS, deep support for hosted web apps, and the Windows Bridge iOS)…with more bridge and cross-platform work happening and expanding on a regular basis (or as regular as the ‘laws’ of SDL allow ^_^).

      …and the above doesn’t even touch on everything happening on the Azure/services side of Microsoft — enabling some amazing code and logic reuse across data services, business logic, security, notifications, etc., etc..

      But keep the tooling/dev feedback and suggestions coming on the relevant UserVoice sites (Visual Studio’s UV site and the WPDev UV site).

      • Excuse me… Cliff! Not Clint. I am TERRIBLY sorry about that! Speaking of which, your blog comments section is terribly antiquated. We cannot edit posts and the posts that we can post are at the mercy of some obscure moderation rules. Please consider implementing Disqus and bring consistency with the Azure group. The comments section as they stand are really hurting your engagement capacity with your developers. Trust me. 😛

        • Another great example of some pretty buggy blog software. This comment is in reply to a comment that is “under moderation” … which has been as such for over 24 hours. It would seem that comments under moderated comments would NOT get published until their parent comments are approved. Even as such, the reason why my as-yet-unapproved comment is flagged is because it seems I had two URLs in my post. But one (even if it leads to malware??) is OK.

          Seriously, UWP team. Disqus FTW. 😛 And also, approve moderation of your posts. Your developers are trying to engage with you and provide valued feedback! This simply does not happen in VSO or Azure blogs. Quite the opposite, actually.

      • Thank you for your reply, Cliff. I am actually surprised someone from the UWP team replied, in fact. 🙂 However, I do think it really highlights the significant disconnect in the UWP/Windows group and the current client development climate. That is, it really seems/sounds like UWP/Windows assumes/believes that they can achieve maximum market reach with the Windows 10 platform, when that simply is not the case. Again, even at 1B installs, it will be but a fraction of the total device/computer market, and what the ubiquity of the web comprises. Here is a nice graphic showcasing just this would look like when Windows 10 hits 1B in 2018 (yes, I believe 🙂 ):

        Additionally, I am not sure why MSFT continues to promote divisive and incompatible technologies such as Cordova, which is based on JavaScript. Any .NET solution that features a JavaScript-based client is incredibly expensive as developers are having to work in two incompatible languages, and they cannot leverage knowledge/code between the two code bases. This guidance ultimately creates development cultures of .NET generalists, rather than experts and is very expensive in the resulting code bases and the resources employed to maintain them.

        The same goes for the “web-bridges” that no web developer that I know of is utilizing. Why would a web developer that can inherently reach 3 billion devices that already run HTML5 create a bridge back to a platform that can only reach 200M? This is truly backwards thinking and I am sure your adoption rates reflect this.

        Instead, MSFT should be creating bridges OUT to other platforms in addition to the (backwards) ones coming back in, as their current strategy is attempting to do. They can then CHARGE DEVELOPERS for this service as it is clearly a value-driven proposition that .NET developers will pay hand over fist as it means leveraging/preserving insurmountable investments made in .NET.

        Additionally, I am not sure what you mean by Azure. They are killing it with the services, but that doesn’t do any good with the massively expensive client application development business problem we are discussing here. We still need to build at least 4 different client applications (Windows, iOS, Droid, Web) to utilize their awesome services. Is Azure building a client development model we don’t know about yet? 😛

        Finally, I will say that Xamarin is great and this partnership should definitely be further leveraged, magnified, and utilized. However, they only deal with the native sphere and do not provide a web-platform solution. This is troublesome because organizations who are using .NET backends with NodeJS frontends are beginning to (rightly) realize that they can create solutions faster and cheaper by using NodeJS for both client and server, thereby leveraging knowledge/code created for both sides and concerns. This leaves .NET in serious trouble on the web front (and in general).

        With all of this said, the one promising aspect of all of this is indeed UserVoice, as you suggest. There are currently 22,000+ votes between VS and UWP UserVoice boards that are asking (or have asked) for a ubiquitous .NET client application development model offering from MSFT. This has been going on for years now. The demand (and value) is clearly there. The question is… will you finally listen and make MSFT a dominant force in the client application development space again? Make our day. 🙂 Thanks again for the dialogue.

  5. I agree with the others here: It’s pretty weird to read MS bragging about “improved app discoverability”, when at the same time the store support forums are flooded with deverlopers having massive problems with their app’s discoverability.

    A whole lot of apps which have excellent ratings, lots of downloads and a (well deserved) top position in the Windows 8 Store, are often missing completely in Windows 10 Store. Some are not available in any of the top lists, some cannot be found by using the keywords, some cannot even be found by searching for the exact app name. No help is provided to all these developers, and no improvements can be seen in the store at all, although these problems are being reported since the launch of Windows 10 (some problems also do occur on Window 8, but there are a lot more problems on Windows 10). No help is provided to any of these devs.

    If Microsoft wants to keep these developers, they should confirm the store problems, and provide a perspective of when these problems will be resolved. The lack of apps is the biggest problem Microsoft is having. In that situation it’s crazy to hide awesome apps from the users and show lots of crap apps instead (there are a lot of apps with very poor ratings shown in the top list, while a lot of apps with decent ratings are not shown). Not only will users have the impression that there are less good apps in the store, but you are also scaring away developers by this total neglect of the massive problems, and it is even bad for Microsoft’s revenue because if good apps are not shown, they will not be bought, and MS receives less store fees. I cannot understand why these problems are not solved with top priority.

    I would expect that ALL apps with decent ratings and constant downloads will be listed in the top apps list. I would expect that ALL apps can be found when using the keywords. Instead, I see a whole lot of crap apps without a single rating or with very bad rating in the top apps list, and many good apps from that same category with excellent reviews are not shown at all in the top list, they can only be found when using the search, and some even cannot be found at all. This is the sad reality, and Microsoft should work hard on changing this.

  6. While I know it is a direct quote of what he said, taken in direct context:

    “Seventy percent of NPR listeners use Windows devices, and we’ve seen a 50-percent increase in their listening time just since Windows 10 came out. And that was before we upgraded our app.”

    — Ben Schein, Product Manager at NPR

    That’s BS. 70% of NPR One users use Windows devices, I’ll believe that (mostly). But if you’re telling me 70% of all NPR *listeners* use a Windows device, I’m going to want to see proof on that.

    Unless, of course, you’re saying that Windows devices == Any windows computer, in which case… so? There have also been an amazing uptick in Star Wars films since Windows 10 came out, and I don’t think that’s because of Windows 10 either. Correlation != Causation.