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:
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:
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.