Microsoft today announced a First Apps Contest, in a clear move to build interest in Windows 8 — its new OS for desktops, laptops and tablets that will debut in February — and for developers to boost their apps' chances for downloads.
"This is your chance to show off your great app and to be part of an exclusive group of developers invited to participate in the Store when it first opens," Microsoft said on the Contest's home page. The Windows 8 Store, much like the Apple App Store, will be a place for users to purchase apps.
Eight winning apps will be the first to appear in the Store, and their creators will additionally receive a Samsung PC, a year of Windows Azure and a two-year subscription to the Store (It'll otherwise run devs $49, and companies $99). Developers have 30 days to get moving — submission are due Jan. 8.
Further incentivizing developers, Microsoft is increasing developers' share of profits from 70% to 80% — though only after an app has made $25,000 in sales.
"It's not a small opportunity. ... In fact, it's the most significant developer opportunity ever," Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president of Windows Web Services, said in a video previewing the Windows Store, explaining that the iPhones, iPads, Android tablets, Android phones and Macs sold in the last two years combined "doesn't match what Windows has sold."
Microsoft approached the Store, Leblond added, with one really clear goal. "We want to return as much money as we can into the hands of developers. We want to provide the best economics of any platform."
In a blog post, Leblond said the Store will open with the release of Windows 8 Beta, and during the Beta period will only feature free apps.
"Beta will help test and reinforce our scale model," Leblond continued. "It’s a feedback opportunity regarding our onboarding and certification process, and a chance for developers to get early feedback on their Metro style apps."
IDC analyst Al Gillen, Tweeting software predictions for 2012 on Dec. 2, wrote: "Prediction 10: Windows 8 Will Launch with Split Success." The firm believes, as Mary-Jo Foley said on ZDnet, that they expect Windows 8 to be "largely irrelevant" to traditional PC users, and that amongst that group it doesn't expect much upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8.