Microsoft’s greatest challenge with this month’s release of Windows 8 is making its new app marketplace a success. In order to get as many apps on board, software developers will need to re-write their applications to take advantage of the new touchy, feely operating system – something that takes time and money.
But many developers are concerned that users will continue to use more traditional input devices including the mouse and keyboard rather than using the new touch interface.
For developers it’s a simple resource problem. They’re hesistant to spend money on a system where they have no idea how many users will actually use touch over mouse and keyboard. Obviously tablet devices are perfect for touch control, but we’ve yet to reach a point where the home computer has become a truly touch device – and that’s something Microsoft wants to change with its new Windows 8 OS.
Developers are obviously unsure quite how big the Windows 8 tablet market is likely to be in the next 18 months. Apple and Samsung have such a huge lead in tablets and Windows 8 will likely play third fiddle to them at least through mid-2013.
To try and increase the amount of touch-enabled apps ready for the October 26 launch Microsoft is commited to pay major software players to write Windows touch apps, but despite their generosity there will only be 3,000 touch-based app at launch.
BlueStacks to the rescue
But there might be a piece of software in the works that could bring all 500,000 Android apps to Windows 8 at the flick of a switch. A software startup called BlueStacks has teamed up with AMD to let users run almost all Android apps on Windows 8 PCs, with full touch capabilites. Although it works best on touch-based tablets and touch PCs, it also works using a trackpad or mouse, too.
While the software is still in beta it could be the shot in the arm that really propels Windows 8 off the shelves this Christmas. Obviously anything that can reduce the time it takes app developers to get their hard work working on other eco systems is welcomed news. There’s a Windows RT version of the BlueStacks player is in the works, as well. But BlueStacks has opted to make a player that directly delivers existing Android apps to a Windows PC.
It’s such a good idea that Asus has already done a deal with Bluestacks to see the software on its new Window 8 PCs and tablets later this year. If Windows 8 touch-based apps are slow to roll out, partnering with BlueStacks to put more than 500,000 apps – even if they are Android apps – on PCs would be a good move.
Microsoft bullish about its success
In a television interview with Beet.TV, Microsoft’s U.S. sales and marketing vice president Keith Lorizio was bullish about the prospects of Windows 8 being a success, calling it a “very special experience” which is driven by the consumer.
The interview revealed some rather ambitious goals for the software maker, who expects 400 million Windows 8 devices to be in the grasp of customer hands by next July. He said: “With Windows 8, it’s not just about pivoting around productivity, which every Windows release has been known for — now we’re going to pivot off the consumer.”
The new operating system is expected to be a strong force, as Lorizio cited the anticipated 400 million devices as a key distributor in a one billion-plus consumer marketplace. This includes both new sales and upgrades of the current Windows 7 OS.
Lorizio said it was “critical” for a wide variety of Windows 8 apps to be available if the new platform is going to be a hit. “We’re expecting to aggressively pursue 100,000-plus apps over the first three months,” the exec said.
Windows 8 goes on sale October 26 worldwide.