Windows 8: 100,000 Apps, Still Plenty of Gaps

Microsoft deserves to brag, but quantity isn't everything.

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Jared Newman / TIME.com

Kudos to Microsoft for hitting a big milestone with Windows 8: The number of “Metro” apps (for lack of a better term) in the Windows Store now exceeds 100,000.

It’s an impressive feat for the touch-friendly side of Windows, even when compared with Apple’s iPad. While the total number of Windows Store apps is nowhere close to the 375,000 iPad apps in Apple’s App Store, Microsoft is coming out of the gate faster. It took Apple 16 months to hit the 100,000 tablet apps milestone. Microsoft got there in less than a year.

Still, I wanted to look a bit deeper than just app quantity, so I put together some charts showing how many of Apple’s all-time most popular free and paid iPad apps–as of May 2013–are currently available in the Windows Store, and how much they cost. This isn’t going to be a definitive comparison of the two stores, but it does give a general sense what Microsoft’s remaining weaknesses are.

Let’s start with the list of top paid iPad apps vs. Windows 8:

paidipadvswin8

Jared Newman / TIME.com

It’s clear from this chart that Microsoft still has a lot of gaps to fill. Despite naysayers who claim that you can’t possibly get any work done on an iPad, the popularity of Pages, Keynote, Numbers and QuickOffice show that there’s plenty of demand for productivity apps on tablets. Windows has Office, but it’s much more expensive, and there won’t be a true tablet-optimized version until the end of the year at the earliest.

The Windows Store also lacks media creation apps to compete with Apple’s own GarageBand and iMovie. It’s similar to the situation with Office, where non-touch, expensive desktop software is your only option. At least a built-in photo editor is coming in Windows 8.1, and Aviary’s Photo Editor is a fine third-party offering in the meantime.

From my past experience perusing the Windows Store, it was no surprise that a lot of top games are missing as well, and the ones that Microsoft does have are often more expensive. This is an even bigger problem when you realize some of these iPad games have free, ad-supported alternatives, while the Windows 8 versions do not. We’ll see that detailed in the next chart.

Here’s the list of top free iPad apps vs. Windows 8:

freeipadvswin8

Jared Newman / TIME.com

The Windows Store has more of the top free iPad apps covered than I expected, and for most the ones that Microsoft doesn’t have, there are alternatives available. The recent announcement that Facebook and Flipboard are coming to Windows 8 is a big help, though we don’t know exactly when those apps will arrive.

There’s just one problem that doesn’t show up in a chart: The Windows 8 versions of popular apps aren’t always as good as their iPad counterparts.

Twitter, for instance, doesn’t support lists or multiple accounts. Dropbox doesn’t let you move, delete, download or upload files directly through the app. Though it’s not on this list, baseball fans should know that MLB.tv lacks most of the extra features found on iPad, such as stats and standings.

Microsoft deserves to brag about how quickly the Windows Store has grown, but quantity isn’t everything. I’m not anti-Metro, and I’m even open to the idea of weaning off the desktop. It’s just harder to do while lots of top apps are either absent, more expensive or missing features compared to the iPad.

6 comments
psk20
psk20

This comparison is a bit one-directional.

I'm sure there is a gap in apps that Microsoft still needs to close with Apple, but this article doesn't really give Microsoft enough credit where it is due.

Not everyone will agree with the following, but I bought Pages on my ipad, used it once, and never used it again. I use OneNote many times a day on my Surface Pro - without a digitiser, I can't imagine iPads competing (though I have yet to try Notability).

When OneNote doesn't cut it then I'd be aiming to use a full-featured word processor or spreadsheet program, with keyboard and mouse if possible rather than stuffing around with a touchscreen. Once again, I wouldn't be looking for something like Pages - I'd go the whole hog with Office 365.

rm5432
rm5432

Office is free in RT and in the new Atom tablets too.

chasedaron
chasedaron

I agree, this should be compared against the RT.  The other thing to note is Movie Moments is in 8.1 which would be comparable to iMovie.  When Oprah gave away the Surface RT as one of her favorite things, they came preloaded with the official Scrabble App from Hasbro that was supposed to launch Q1 2013.  Though it never did.  I'd like to see MS secure a good agreement with Hasbro to bring most all of their board games to the W8 market.  I hope facebook and many other vendors don't drag their feet on this one.  It's a waste of time as this will still be the number 1 OS with so much $$$ potential.   Eventually there will be millions of these apps just like there is with Windows desktop apps.  If anything its better to have an app because you are presented with less conflict of interest and competition.  It's easier to switch to another vendor on the web browser than it would be switch to another app that may not even be available.  For Example, if Target had an app but Walmart didn't.  It would be easier to purchase through Target and not as easy to price compare without that other app. 

onedigeratti
onedigeratti

A better comparison is iOS vs Win RT which is the "mobile" version of Windows. Office 2013 is free for Win RT devices.

JudgementCalled
JudgementCalled

Windows 8 should be considered more of a proper operating system than a mobile OS, that would explain the steep prices.

pharmassist
pharmassist

it's been less than a year since windows 8 launched, so I can forgive the store for a few missing apps here and there. 

for the most part, windows 8 has been great and 8.1 is even better.  and I only see this expansion growing in the coming years as ms makes windows 8.1 optimized for 8 inch tablets and smaller ones.