Windows Store for Tablet Apps: What to Expect

CIO.com blogger James A. Martin took his first stroll through Microsoft's Windows Store on his new Surface RT tablet. He wasn't surprised that some of his favorite tablet apps are missing, but was still pleasantly surprised by the experience.

I bought a Microsoft Surface RT tablet today at a pop-up Microsoft store in San Francisco. After setting it up, among the first things I did was cruise the Windows Store.

The Store is a pleasure to browse. Like the Windows RT tablet, it’s elegant. All the white space gives it a comfortable, uncrowded feel, and it is nicely organized.

Upon launching the Store, you first encounter a Spotlight corner, which highlights a handful of noteworthy apps. On the day I bought the tablet, I saw some reassuring favorites from iOS and/or Android among the Spotlight choices: Urbanspoon, Skype, Netflix, NBC News, and The Wall Street Journal.

Windows Store

Swiping to the right brings you to Surface picks, which are “some of our favorite apps.” Currently, there are 32 such apps including Wikipedia, Amazon’s Kindle e-reading app, eBay, StumbleUpon, Kayak, Angry Birds Space ($5), iHeartRadio, and Skyscanner.

From there, apps are grouped into categories: Games (1081 apps); Social (151); Entertainment (824); Photo (142); Music & Video (145); Sports (208); and so on. Each category, including the Spotlight, has its own ‘Top free’ and ‘New releases’ button, for additional browsing options.

Within a category, you have browsing options such as subcategories, prices, and sorting options (such as sort by newest, highest rating, and lowest price). Searching apps is easy, too. Just tap the right side of the screen to bring up the Search icon.

App installations were fast and easy to do. In the top right of the Store screen, you’re notified that the app is downloading and again when it’s installed.

The Windows Store has only been open since Oct. 26, so not surprisingly, many of my favorite iOS and Android apps aren’t available yet. Examples include Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, HootSuite, The Weather Channel, and the Washington Post. I particularly miss Dropbox, because so far I’ve been unsuccessful in opening any of my files using the Surface RT’s Internet Explorer 10 browser.

The Windows Store has a long way to go to catch up with Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store—but it’s off to a good start. 

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