Microsoft is offering up its latest Windows Store statistics as proof of Windows 8.1's popularity, at least compared with its predecessor.
"Windows 8.1 is now the primary operating system for Windows Store. In November the vast majority of downloads (approx. 92%) of Windows Store apps were from customers running Windows 8.1," wrote Windows Apps and Store Product Manager Bernardo Zamora in his latest update.
On the Windows Phone side of the fence, Microsoft's data suggests that users are hanging onto their older handsets longer. "Windows Phone 8.1 now represents 65% of Windows Phone downloads while downloads from Windows Phone devices running 7.x account for less than 5%," he stated. The Lumia 520, released in early 2013, is the most popular Windows Phone device, accounting for over "a quarter of all app downloads."
Windows Store is Microsoft's answer to Apple's App Store and Google Play. App buyers can browse and buy software for Windows PCs, tablets and Windows Phones.
Last week, Microsoft announced that it had become the first app marketplace to introduce carrier billing to China, India and Brazil. The capability enables customers without credit cards to purchase apps and opens up potentially lucrative new markets for the Windows app ecosystem and its developers.
"This, along with Verizon's recently enabled carrier billing for Windows Phone in the US, represents a huge opportunity for developers. China Mobile alone is estimated to serve nearly 800 million customers, millions of whom are Windows Phone users," said Microsoft in a Dec. 18 announcement.
Developers who can deliver responsive, resource-efficient app experiences are likelier to find success, Microsoft's data suggests.
"With 71% of downloads now coming from low-memory devices, you can more than double your potential market by optimizing your app to run on low memory devices," said Zamora. "If that's not possible, consider creating a version with lower memory requirements to offer alongside your primary apps."
Games was the most popular category for both Windows and Windows Phone devices last month, with over 40 percent and 25 percent of all downloads, respectively. The Tools & Productivity and Music & Videos categories rank second and third on both platforms.
Developers can also benefit by weighing their localization options. "Offering your apps in English only will reach roughly 25% of Windows Phone customers, and a larger percentage of tablet and PCs users," stated Zamora. "Adding Spanish, Mandarin, Brazilian Portuguese, and Russian increases coverage to more than 50% of Store customers."
Thirty-five percent of developer revenue is generated by in-app purchases, and it's increasing each month, according to Zamora. And lower prices don't necessarily translate into more sales.
"While the majority of in-app purchases in the Windows Phone Store are at price points below $2.00, the top 3 highest grossing price points, ordered by total revenue, are $9.99, $4.99, and $19.99," Zamora said. "In short, in-app pricing does not have to be low to be profitable."