Microsoft is the first to say it's actively applying feedback from its Release Preview of Windows 8 and the Windows Store. Which is good. Early shoppers still want more.
its Windows 8 Release Preview May 31
, a follow-up to the Consumer Preview
of the new operating system that it released in February. Included in the new
Release is an early look at Windows Store, Microsofts answer to the App
Storein as much as Windows 8, with its Metro aesthetic, is an answer to
Apples success and the halo effects that have endeared many a PC user to the
iPhone, iPad and even Mac.
Microsoft has a tremendous
amount riding on its new platform, which is widely expected to ship this fall.
Global purchases of PCs have been put on hold, as buyers wait and see, and the
tablet market is expected to shift with the introduction of a new, major
player, as a considerable portion of enterprise customers, more comfortable
with Microsoft than with Apple, finally embrace the tablet form factor.
The Release Preview store
offers an app catalog for users in 26 markets, up from five during the Consumer
Preview, as well as 33 new developer submission locales and more on the way.
After all, a thriving
Store ecosystem depends on great customer and developer experiences, Ted
Dworkin, partner director of Microsoft Program Management, said in a May 31 post
on the Windows
, announcing the Store in the Release
While the Store will
undergo any number of changes before its final releasea major point of the
Preview is to collect feedback and adjust as necessarythe early feedback
suggests Microsoft has a good deal of work ahead of it before Windows Store
comes close to the usability of Apples App Store.
Lance Whitney, after spending time in the store,
wrote that it still doesnt feel user-friendly.
He also wasnt keen on the
way apps are downloaded. Right-clicking an image can pause or cancel the
download, but Whitney found the way the design is implemented to be not very
useful. Most Metro apps seem small and can download in a manner of seconds,
he wrote. Several of the apps I selected finished downloading before I had a
chance to get to the pause or cancel options.
Despite Microsofts many
enhancements, he added, the store still feels awkward to me.
Jon Brodkin noted that
a search box isnt immediately visible, as it is in the Mac and iPad App
Stores. He also had problems selecting multiple apps, and pointed out a new zooming
in and out feature that lets users see more content without having to scroll
I have a hard time using
the Windows Store, he wrote, and not wishing the home screen had a plainly
visible categories option with a drop-down list containing the names of all the
categories at once.
However, Ed Bott, writing
was impressed by a number of new Metro-style apps in the Windows Store,
including two slick Twitter clients, a much-improved Amazon Kindle Reader and
a smart-looking Wikipedia app.
Bott had a number of
positive things to say about the Release Preview overall, calling some of the
built-in apps in this new version light years ahead of the rudimentary apps
in the Consumer Previews. The biggest surprise, he said, was a trio of Metro-style
apps that aggregate news, sports and travel in a way that really shows what a
well-designed Metro app is capable of doing. These apps, along with the
previously released Finance and Weather apps, depend on an extraordinarily
tight integration with Microsofts Bing search platform.
IDG analyst Al Hilwa,
sharing early thoughts on Windows 8 in a June 1 research note, was also
impressed and surprisedby the integration of Flash, which he said should help
set apart Windows tablets from the iPad, and also Microsofts decision to make
Do Not Track a default that users have to un-tick, instead of the reverse.
No doubt this was a tough
discussion internally with the advertising franchise, but I think Microsoft
made the right choice, wrote Hilwa. With this move, they have an opportunity
to build up the trust in their brand and differentiate it from Android and
For those who found the
options in the store to be rather slim, the Windows Store blog notes that
Microsoft plans to keep adding apps during the Release Preview timeframe.
Whats there is just the beginning.