by James A. Martin

Windows 8 Update: Ad-Free Pandora; Slow App Growth; Software Enhancements

Mar 26, 20132 mins
Small and Medium BusinessWindows

Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 have been getting a lot of attention in recent days. Most of the news is good for Windows 8 users, but maybe not so much for Microsoft, according to blogger James A. Martin.

Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 have made a lot of headlines during the past few days, but this gem in particular stands out: Pandora is offering its excellent streaming music service to Windows Phone 8 users with no ads for free.

The Pandora Windows Phone 8 app was released on March 21, and it is the only mobile app that gives users ad-free access to Pandora radio stations through 2013 at no charge, according to Pandora. Pandora subscribers without Windows Phones pay $36 yearly or $4 per month to listen to music without ads. That’s not much money, and in my opinion, it’s well worth it. But free is even better than paying $36, right? Pandora mobile apps are also available for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Barnes & Noble Nook and Kindle Fire.

Pandora Windows Phone 8

In other news, Windows 8 app store growth has slowed considerably, prompting Microsoft to offer a $100 per app enticement to app developers, according to Computerworld.

The Windows Store, which distributes apps for Windows 8 and Windows RT, experienced a 52 percent jump in apps in December 2012 over the previous month, soon after the release of Windows 8 and its RT variant, according to MetroStore Scanner. But January saw only 10 percent more apps added compared to December, and growth slowed to 9 percent in February. So far in March, the Windows Store has increased 12 percent compared to February. The Windows Store currently has about 50,000 apps total.

Microsoft also announced this week that it will roll out an update for its built-in Mail, Calendar and People apps for Windows 8 and Windows RT on Tuesday. Among the new features:

  • Mail will let you see only unread messages, organize messages in folders and flag important messages.
  • Calendar will make your appointments easier to read, provide a new “Work week” view and support scheduling-assistant features for business accounts that use Microsoft Exchange. You’ll also be able to forward meeting invites, send email to all meeting attendees and take advantage of more recurrence options.
  • People will make navigation easier, let you post directly to a friend’s Facebook wall and more easily filter your “What’s new” feed by social network.

All of this is mostly good news for Windows 8 users—but maybe not so much for Microsoft.