This story was written by Keith Dawson for UBM DeusM’s community Web site Develop in the Cloud, sponsored by AT&T. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the Develop in the Cloud site is no more. This material is Copyright 2012 by UBM DeusM.

Windows 8's Inducements for Developers

Sure, it's a walled garden, but ooh shiny.

Windows 8 developers will have only a walled garden to sell into, but Microsoft is trying to make the platform attractive in other ways.

We have written before about the immense risks Microsoft is taking with all the changes it is making in the move to Windows 8, including turning away from the .NET development platform and, probably, eventually leaving it behind. We have also detailed the many ways in which Microsoft is closing off distribution channels once open to Windows developers in favor of an Apple-style walled garden -- though one with walls higher than even Apple has dared to erect.

Now let's look at the positive side. What is Microsoft offering developers the Apple and Android are not? According to PC World, the answer turns out to be: quite a lot.

Filthy lucre. Both Apple and Android take 30 percent of the revenue for apps sold in their stores. Microsoft will too, at first. But after an app reaches $25,000 in sales in the Windows 8 store, a new tier kicks in and Microsoft will only take 20 percent of sales.

It is possible this policy will result in an arms race in developer royalty rates among the big app stores, though it hasn't happened yet.

Oh, and it costs nothing to get into Microsoft's developer program. Apple charges $99.

Many languages. If you want to write apps for iOS, you'll need to cozy up to Objective C. For Android, it's Java or nothing. For Windows 8: your choice of Visual Basic, C++, C#, or HTML / CSS / JavaScript.

Write once, run anywhere. Sound familiar? It was the promise of Java beginning in the 1990s, honored more in the beach than the observance. It is still the hope and promise of HTML5, someday. In the case of Microsoft's controlled environment, the promise might just be workable. Programs developed for the Metro Modern Windows 8 design style should indeed run on desktop, laptop, Surface tablet, and Windows 8 phone -- given some care applied to making sure the design is responsive.

Reach and scale. Pretty much everyone expects Windows 8 to get off to a slow start. We have seen how the demand for it in the pre-release months was far below that for Windows 7, and Gartner is expecting only a 20 percent penetration for Windows 8 in the enterprise over the next couple of years. (Our own quick survey indicates that this community is of one mind with Gartner.)

But pretty much everyone also expects that eventually Windows 8 will be running on many hundreds of millions of PCs and smaller devices. Forrester thinks Windows 8 will have 30 percent of touch-based devices by 2016, according to PC World. The market opportunity is obviously huge, and developers have the chance to get in on the ground floor -- to get their app noticed when the competitive field is still small.

One dark cloud on the horizon for the Microsoft Surface is the prospect of Indian-made, sub-$50 tablets flooding world markets. The article in Quartz holds the opinion that such rock-bottom competition would not hurt Apple much, positioned as it is as the top of the market; but it could hit hard at makers of cheap tablets such as Google and Samsung -- and possibly Microsoft.

What do you think? Did you read anything here that gives you cause to consider Windows 8 in a new light?

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