Q&A: Driving apps to Windows 8

We do have a pretty good process, we’re pretty good about holding to that bar in terms of an app getting through the process and making it into the store.

Q&A: Driving apps to Windows 8

Q. Can we assume that these late services such as Dropbox have been involved in the process right from the beginning? They weren’t waiting to see before diving in?

A. I would assume. I wasn’t involved in the Dropbox conversation but for the UK… for instance, the Financial Times we were talking to in May, and they were interested in getting a preview version out. The Telegraph, same thing – very eager to explore what can be done with print versus digital, so they came along pretty early.

If I think of the categories, there’s the ones that clearly see that this is a channel and I’ve got to land on it. There’s the ones like Star Chart which were more moved by [the fact that] finally they’ve got a compute platform that spans the full spectrum, I want to be on it.

And there’s… a lot of the iOS and Android guys that came over early… they just did the numbers. The guys in that business know what it takes: you’ve got to be discoverable, and there’s a window [of opportunity] here and that drives you to want to get on quickly.

We’ve been running developer camps going back to May. In the UK we’ve been running at capacity, we’ve been running one-day events: open, free, just come in the door, we’ll walk you through what it takes to write a Windows 8 app.

And then there’s a set of resources behind it – we used to make it mandatory that you had to go through a quality check, a four-hour review process with somebody that would look through the app and give you suggestions on what to improve. Now that’s not mandatory because enough knowledge has gotten out there.

Q. Ballmer talked about 670 million potential upgrades, but they’re – as he put it – Windows 7 generation hardware, without touch. Isn’t that a false number to use?

A. Touch is a first-class citizen in Windows 8, as it should be, but it was never intended to be the only method of interaction. So we believe that there is an experience on keyboard and mouse that uses the same interface and works – and I can say that all day long, but the only way to feel it is to use it.

Touch is a first-class citizen in Windows 8, as it should be, but it was never intended to be the only method of interaction

What I have at home, connected to the TV is a Sony VAIO that used to have Windows 7 on it until I upgraded. That’s a keyboard and mouse on a television set, and it’s great. It’s actually very similar in a sense to Xbox when you interact with it – you don’t interact with touch itself but it’s the same kind of interface.

If you talk to developers… say Star Chart, which is on the face of it an astronomy app, but it’s actually something that requires a fair amount of computing power. They’re ecstatic that they can get on all these form-factors – the compute power matters more to them than whether or not it’s touch-friendly.

Q. There are some great touchscreen laptops coming out for Windows 8. Will touch be everywhere soon?

A. I think as customers start walking up and seeing these things in [store] aisles, I think we’ll see the percentage of touch go up pretty radically. The ecosystem is just waiting for that to happen – the software has to make it come alive.

But at the same time, it’s very interesting talking to enterprises now, because as soon as they got wind of Windows 8, enterprises using various forms of ultralights or tablets have held back to see what happened with Windows 8. To that world, the touch element matters but the desktop element matters just as much. Both of those I think will have their place.

Q. Talking of holding back, Acer has delayed its Windows RT début to watch how the launch goes. How do you balance Surface against the needs of OEMs?

A.I’m not in those conversations with the OEMs directly, but the main thing to keep in mind is exactly what Steve [Ballmer] said yesterday [in his keynote]. We’re talking about a market of hundreds of millions. I think it’s a fair thing for Acer to say, fine, we’ll see what happens – obviously, there’s other players that haven’t made that call. So, I think in many ways we’re all going to see what happens in that space…

The market’s big enough, is the short way of saying that, for all of us to do things.

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