How Do Microsoft Windows Store Offerings Really Stack Up?

We pit the Windows Store against its iOS and Android counterparts in several categories to see how its apps stack up in usefulness.

By Brad Chacos
Wed, February 27, 2013

PC World — Whenever talk turns to the comparatively low number of apps available in the Windows Store, commenters invariably take the article to task. "Quantity isn't as important as quality!" they type, frequently tossing in an ALL CAPS EXPLETIVE or three. "Who wants 100,000 fart apps anyway?"

Those naysayers are right.

The sheer number of apps available for a platform matters far less than the number of killer apps that people actually want to use. Sure, the number of new Windows Store releases has slowed precipitously since the holidays, but is it really fair to say that the dearth of Windows apps is pushing Windows RT to a premature demise? Even though the Windows Store is still shy of 50,000 apps, that's more than enough inventory if all the world's truly relevant and important apps are counted among the horde.

To get a clearer view of the overall quality of Windows 8's apps, I sifted through the U.S. Windows Store and scribbled copious notes about the selection available in five major categories: games, video apps, music apps, social apps, and a catch-all "other" category. Then, I compared the results against the iOS and Android app catalogs, and applied a hefty dose of common sense to judge whether the Windows Store has a particular category covered.

This one's for you, ALL CAPS EXPLETIVE commenters. How does the Windows Store's overall quality compare against the two biggest app markets in the world? You're about to find out.


Developers have brought their A games to the Windows Store, resulting in a Games category stuffed with 4647 titles. There's a lot of fluff, but there are also numerous titles that just plain rock... or at least rock just enough.

Those stars bubble up if you use the Windows Store's 'Search by noteworthy' option. Perusing the results, you'll find familiar cross-platform hits such as Angry Birds, Jetpack Joyride, and Cut the Rope, along with several higher-quality titles that sport Xbox Live integration. One title, Skulls of the Shogun, even lets users on Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone, and Xbox Live Arcade all compete against each other, a particularly awesome and forward-thinking touch.

That said, I have to repeat a line first uttered in my early roundup of Windows 8 gaming standouts: Most of the best are straightforward ports from competing platforms. While the Windows Store is well stocked with games, it does not have as many titles as Android or iOS, and (most germane to this article) the list ofA omissionsA includes Triple A titles. You won't find Temple Run. You won't find Draw Something. You won't find Letterpress. Nor will you find an RT-friendly version of Plants vs. Zombies. And so on.

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