According to information Microsoft provides to developers, the Windows Store marketplace for applications on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 racked up roughly 1.7 million daily downloads, both free and paid, in October, a 38.56% increase since June. Microsoft’s dataset, located on the company’s developer portal, indicates that around 51.2 million applications, again free and paid, were downloaded during the month-long period. While that figure represents growth for Microsoft, the company lags steeply behind its classic rival Apple.
Microsoft breaks out download rates for Windows Store applications by category, subcategory, free, paid, and even by country and gender if you want to see that information. I ran the data for the following months in 2013: January, February, June, and October: January because it was a peak for app downloads, coming the month after the holiday season in which PC sales tick higher; February to measure the post-holiday trough; June to check in during the summer; and October because it is the most recent provided full month.
Here is the raw summed data for each month, including all locations and application categories:
From this, we can see that after the holiday cycle, downloads were strong compared with their February decline, staying mostly consistent through the summer. I suspect that Microsoft was slightly worried during that point at the lack of yeast in its numbers.
After looking through the charts of every application category, both free and paid, I can state that things have recently improved. Although there was material variance between the different application categories and their popularity, the general kick over the last few months, and especially in October, was one of positive growth.
Microsoft recently stated that during its holiday cycle, application downloads and developer revenue grew. The charts appear to confirm this.
So, Is That Good?
It’s hard to draw direct comparisons, as platforms in this case don’t line up directly. The Windows Store covers tablets, laptops, and desktops, and across its two versions (8 and 8.1), and controls 9.25 percent of the PC market, in terms of its active install base. That bests the market share of OS X, which tallies to 7.23 percent across all its versions.
But, Windows 8.X is broader than OS X, which is not a tablet operating system. So while we could argue that Windows 8.X (by that I mean Windows 8 and 8.1 combined) beats the Apple Mac Store, I’m not sure if that proves much, given how Microsoft is pushing Windows 8.X on tablets.
We could compare the 1.7 million daily tally to Apple’s figures, but stacking that daily number next to Apple’s most recent total download report (60 billion downloads on iOS!) is silly. Let’s sharpen the figures:
- June 10, 2013: 50 billion App Store downloads.
- October 22, 2013: 60 billion App Store downloads.
- Difference: 10 billion App Store downloads.
- Days between the two: 134
- Downloads per day: 74,626,865
Comparing that figure to the Windows Store figure details that Apple is tallying 43.8 times as many downloads per day than Microsoft. And, of course, we’re comparing the best month of the Windows Store’s history, and an average of several Apple months, which is slightly unfair to Apple.
We don’t have current Windows Phone app download data, and also lack Mac OS X information, so we can’t directly compare Microsoft and Apple in aggregate with precision, but we can say that Windows remains a nascent platform.
However, we do have another data point from June that is worth mentioning: Microsoft reported that Windows Phone’s (then) 160,000 applications were seeing 200 million downloads per month. That means that Windows Phone’s app store was then around four times as large as Windows 8.X’s months later. This could indicate that the Windows Store is having a hard time connecting with consumers, given that its hardware install base is likely already larger.
Assuming that Windows Phone has continued to grow, reaching, say, the 250 million app downloads per month mark in October. That would give the combined Windows ecosystem 300 million downloads per month, or 10 million per day. That is still under one-seventh of Apple’s only App Store-only tally.
So, Microsoft’s platforms are growing, but they remain by every comparison that I can imaging that matters (except Windows Store against Mac App Store for obvious reasons), far behind. But we knew that.
What we can now do is track the struggle. For Microsoft, by January we’ll have Windows Phone sales numbers, Surface revenue, Windows 8.X combined market share, and app download rates. And we’ll have the same for Apple.
I wrote before that the smartphone wars were iOS v. Android and Windows Phone v. BlackBerry. Those days are gone. BlackBerry is over. So now Windows Phone has but two much larger rivals to compete with.
You wanted a place at the Big Kid mobile and app store table, Microsoft? Now you have one. Time to prove that you belong there.