Web or Windows 8 apps - we don't care, says Microsoft

Internet Explorer chief says Microsoft isn't bothered if developers don't use its app store

Barry Collins
14 Nov 2012

Microsoft doesn't care if developers choose to deliver their apps over the web or via the Windows 8 Store, the general manager for Internet Explorer has told PC Pro.

Ryan Gavin, the man in charge of Microsoft's browser, claimed the GPU acceleration and multi-finger gesture support built into Internet Explorer 10 gives developers the opportunity to deliver apps via the browser as well as through the Windows Store.

By contrast, Gavin claims users are frustrated by the web browsing experience on Apple's iPad. "It's an entirely sufficient experience, but you don't get that magical app-like experience," he claimed.

Someone paid us money for Windows. Our job is to deliver a first-class experience

Gavin showed off web apps taking advantage of IE10's touch support, such as the news aggregator Pulse - which allows you to resize a grid of news stories using a pinch-and-zoom gesture - and the game Contre Jour, which has previously appeared as an app on devices such as the iPad.

Gavin said delivering a browser-based version of Contre Jour allowed the developer to reach a wider audience. "This developer has a very successful app on other devices that has tens of millions of users," Gavin said. "He wants hundreds of millions of users on the web."

Yet, by allowing developers to side-step the Windows Store and deliver applications over the web, Microsoft is missing out on the 30% commission it would take from app sales. Gavin insists Microsoft isn't concerned about the potential loss of revenue. "Our business model is pretty straightforward," he said. "Someone paid us money for Windows. Our job is to deliver a first-class experience. Both web and apps should be great."

He also claimed that web apps could migrate to the Windows Store, explaining how the developer of Contre Jour allowed customers to play the first three levels of the game on the web, but then asked them to pay for the app if they wished to progress further.

"There are 'n' models out there [for making money from apps]," Gavin insisted. "Some sites will never have apps, some apps will never have sites."

Different browser versions

Microsoft this week launched a release preview of Internet Explorer 10 - which is bundled with Windows 8 - for Windows 7. However, it won't be bringing IE10 to Windows Vista or XP, leaving different operating systems on different versions of Microsoft's web browser.

Gavin insists consumers won't be confused by the variety of different browsers. "We don't ask them to understand version numbers - it just gets better," he claimed, adding users of IE9 will be automatically upgraded to IE10 unless they specifically choose otherwise.

Rob Mauceri, group program manager for Internet Explorer, said developers should also stop worrying about different browser versions. "You can use feature detection and write for the capabilities of the device, not the version of the browser," he said.

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