PSA For Win8 Devs: The Only Way To Distribute Your Metro Apps Is Through The Windows Store

Here is a reminder for developers who want to write apps for Windows 8’s Metro mode (or whatever Microsoft prefers to call it these days): the only way to distribute your apps to consumers is through the Windows Store. This isn’t actually a new policy but one that Microsoft announced a year ago. Judging from this Hacker News thread, though, this still comes as a surprise to many developers and it’s clearly something Microsoft hasn’t stressed enough in the run-up to the Windows 8 launch on October 26.

The discussion started with a question on Microsoft’s Windows 8 forum, which asked whether Windows 8 will allow developers “to post Metro apps on the web for end users to freely download, or will public dissemination of Metro apps be limited to the Windows Store?”

Here is the answer:

Surely, the fact that Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Presson also recently wrote that he would rather see his game not run on Windows 8 than get it certified by Microsoft played a role in the fact that this discussion is now flaring up again.

Microsoft obviously says it is restricting side-loading of Metro apps to prevent the spread of malware and to create a better user experience. In return, of course, it will also make 30% of all the sales in the store (and 20% from apps that make more than $25,000 over the course of their lifetime).

The exception to this rule is that business users will be able to side-load their custom apps and IT administrators will be able to deploy them to employees, but these apps, too, must adhere to the same certification policies and go through the same processes as the other apps in the Windows Store.

Desktop apps, of course, can still be distributed the old-fashioned way, though developers who want to do so can also have them included in the Windows Store. Microsoft will just link to desktop apps in the store and show a description and screenshots, however. Developers won’t be able to sell these apps from the store but will have to use their own payment and licensing solutions.

Where Are All The Metro Apps?

Currently, there are around 2,500 apps in the Windows Store. Microsoft has made a massive push to get developers to bring their old and new apps to Windows 8 and Metro on both the desktop and on tablets (through WindowsRT). The total number of apps seems rather low and hints that most developers aren’t rushing to get their apps into the Windows Store. It’s worth noting, however, that the Store has only been taking submission from all developers for about two weeks now, so we could still see a major growth spurt before the end of October.