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Microsoft to unify Windows Phone and Windows Stores

One of the major downsides within the Microsoft ecosystem is the inability to share applications between Windows Phone devices and Windows 8/RT tablets. Rumors had emerged in the past that the company might be looking for a way to merge the two stores and create a one-stop solution for users; today, those rumors have been confirmed.

According to The Verge, Microsoft is planning to combine its current Windows Phone Store and Windows 8 Store into one single entity. Sources have stated that head of Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, Terry Myerson, confirmed the decision to merge the stores “in an internal company meeting today”, which was “attended by thousands of Microsoft employees”.

Myerson has been quoted as being committed to the “next releases” of both Microsoft’s Windows PC and Windows Phone Operating systems; an exact update roadmap has not been specified, we might see the special update for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone in the spring of 2014.

It has not yet been revealed how the application store will work or how Microsoft plans to pull off the merge. We may see a store similar to Apple, in which some applications will be restricted to tablets, while others can be scaled up. It would be even better to see Microsoft combine both distributions of a single purchase, so if multiple versions of the app are available for both tablets and phones – users will only have to worry about picking up the app once.

As of now, the Windows Store and Windows Phone Marketplace are the Achilles Heel of Microsoft’s entrance into the industry and combining the two marketplaces can only be helpful. In addition, if users find out that all of the Windows 8 applications they bought can easily be accessed from their phone – it might draw more appeal to Windows phone handsets.

As we obtain more details on the market unification, we will keep you updated here at Windows Phone Central.

Source: The Verge

 

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Reader comments

Microsoft to unify Windows Phone and Windows Stores

148 Comments

Yeah, I would think this should have been one if the, if not the highest priority to help win phones traction. MS has great resources, but damn they can be slow.

Microsoft needs to SHIT ON EVERYONE come CES 2014.

I mean HARD, like bullys lol. By then this Reorg and the Nokia integration should be on full movement. Microsoft likes to play the "slow n sneaky" bunch lol they've been doing so since the 80s but even I am sure that they must be fed up with the media and the windows 8 and windows phone 8 attacks.

ive been waiting for this for awhile now even thou i have the surface pro i would love to have my apps just the same
 

This is what's holding me back from purchasing Halo Assult. It doesnt make sense to buy it on the phone and on the surface. I want to play this on a bigger monitor but at times I'd rather play it on the go.

I also hope it's totally unrelated to the Nokia Devices finalization.
The Windows Phone 8.1 is due to Feb/Mar 2014
Then the WP8.1 & RT 8.1 & W8.1 % Xbox will have unified API
The Store might have to wait for this.
Developers accessing Beta OS might be able to program (and transfer will minimal fuss) the new API soon.
For consumers the GDR3/Bittersweet shimmer is more huge because of 180p display support.
You can code for that already.
BUT
think about it from a Developers Point Of View:
code once deploy quad! 
Naturally you need still take care of different display sizes and other things like input, etc
but still...the amount of potential Customers is HUGE

The new Windows 9 will most likely totally unite the RT & WPhone in 2015/2016
 

Yes, if MS makes it so that developers can with a fair amount of "ease" code for the combined markets of Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 and the Xbox One, that will represent a very large market and will be an inducement for developers to write for that market.     That's a huge win for customers as we should see more apps for our Windows Phones.

And mobile phones should have started out with 2000 core processors and a tb of ram. But sometimes it takes knowing what you did wrong before you can get it right.

Yeah. Only if you are 6 years late into the game with competitors offering similar solutions, and if you effing advertised it as a feature of the W8/WP8 environment, it should take you this long.

That is a great move .. long overdue. I have brought Angry birds, Cut the Rope and many other apps twice - for my Lumia and then for Surface :(

See, that's one of the things that stopped me from purchasing a surface. Some the windows 8 equivalents are also double the price!!!

Yes me too. If you have to buy again, why not just buy an IPad where you can get all the apps you want. Either way a surface 2 is mine on 22Oct.

Yep "hey good news everyone, we are doing x". Reply "you should have done this from the start, why are you wasting time with this? We wanted y. Still sucks, never gonna buy that crap, give me free stuff, you suck" etc etc etc

If the best notification centre on all platforms was announced, they'd be complaining that we don't have a unified marketplace.

Not really, the same stagnant apps are advertised for days and often weeks, just like before 8.1. On WP it changes daily or even more than once a day.

While I agree with you that the stagnant apps should go away and be timely changed like in wp8 store, I still agree with the guy above.

The windows 8.1 store is MUCH more appealing than the wp8 store. So we can have that UI appeal and just have timely apps refreshed on the feature slide.

It probably is just opinion, but for me, I'm the other way around. Why does W8 look so rushed and messy and glitchy while WP8 looks like the concept of "perfection" to me? :P

Oops, meant to clarify that the Windows 8 apps were glitchy... As in, they were slow, most of them weren't fluid experiences, and sometimes annoying errors plagued my experience... I went back to just using regular desktop programs...

What really is annoying is when the Mail app on my Surface loads up, and when I tap the "Delete" button, it doesn't get highlighted, leaving me to wonder if I tapped it or not... Lol :/

I agree with interopbyt here. W8 core apps still, after many updates speeding them up, take their sweet sweet time loading and man, they really lack the functionality to make up for the sluggishness.

I agree!  I can browse the store, from work,  using the browser and install apps on my phone without even having to pick it up.  I can do the same with Google Play and my Nexus 7.  However, to install on my Surface, I have to be sitting in front of it.  Super lame.

Single purchase between stores would be great. I would even go for a discounted purchase; as a developer myself I know the extra work that goes into supporting both, but you can still share a lot of code between the platforms if you do it right. So as a user I'd be happy to pay half the price on one OS if I've already paid for it on the other.

That even sounds good, as long as there's the ability to "cloud" save game states so that you can play on your WP, then pick it right back up when you get home on your PC/tablet and vice versa

Sorry, I wasn't implying that all apps do it, just that the functionality is there now so the potential for this is high.

Very cool, this is their chance to get ahead of the game.  If they really take advantage of the Xbox One compatabilities as well, they'll have the missing link Apple and Android don't have, a sweet entertainment system that combines your phone/tablet/PC/console.

I'm honestly not that excited, the only advantage of this could be unified purchases, which I fully support. But they wouldn't need to combine the stores to achieve that. I hope they are sensible about it and they dont let blown up phone apps work on tablets and vice versa. That right there is android grade fragmentation.

but many of the apps work on high end devices with screen resolutions of 720P, meaning that if you use those on cheaper laptops/tablets you'll still be getting the same resolution of that image (just less PPI). Apps written to work on 720P will almost certainly still look good on those screens. Once gdr3 comes out and apps start being also written to support 1080p, you can bet they'll still look great on higher end laptops too. I don't think this will necessarily be an issue.

But you are still looking at a blown up phone app, a la android. Regardless of ppi, the ui elements will be inconsistent as WP uses more swipes than w8.

That isn't really the case with Windows Phone and Windows RT though. Windows Phone/RT UI is generally auto-scaling, and as long as screens have the same aspect ratio the scaling will be unnoticeable. For example you can run a phone app on a 480x800 WP7 device and run the same app on a WP8 device with a HD screen and get perfect scaling. A typical tablet has the same resolution (or near enough) to a HD phone (e.g. Surface RT and Lumia 920 have similar resolution).
 
Tablet apps will also generally automatically scale to a phone screen - Microsoft designed their new platforms with this in mind.
 
We wouldn't get the kinds of problems that exist on Android - apps squashed in the screen corner, blocky graphics, etc.
 
I would expect that by default an app would be restricted to its original platform anyway, and there will be ways for a developer to choose whether their app can run on RT/phone based on what is suitable for their particular app. Future apps (made after this change) should be automatically compatible with either platform (much like a Windows RT app is automatically compatible with ARM and x86).
 
I really hope there is a mechanism for easily sharing roaming settings between platforms and that you can *link* two apps together to allow for buy once, play anywhere functionality.

Now just merge these with the Xbox marketplace. I'm sure they can sparse the information so those on the Xbox one can only see programs, games, and movies available for it, while WP users can only see those designed for it. While windows 8 / RT users only see ones for them. The programs that are cross platform would show up on all platforms it's designed for etc.

I think when Surface Mini comes out in early 2014, it will run Windows Phone apps in portrait mode. I think that's the reason why they hold it back and the reason why they make this update - because a mini tablet has to be in portrait, but all the win8 are in landscape mode, while Windows Phone apps would fit perfectly.

Big questions is: Would an existing WP8 app run on W8? (just like iPhone apps run emulated on iPads)

Don't see why that wouldn't work.. WP & RT use the same basic architecture. Should be simple to make happen. I may be wrong though. I am not a DEV

I'm sure it is possible but it wouldn't look very good as WP is more text based and would just look bland on your wide screen laptop/tablet/desktop

Not necessarily, Panorama and Pivots could be displayed in wide. For the rest yes, dark background to fill the space. But at least you can run the app even when not “built for“ W8.

I see this as both good and bad news.
The good news was written in the article: indeed, it would be good to have an Apple-like scheme where Apps would work on both phones and tablets.
But here's the thing: 1st Microsoft has 3 Operating systems instead of 2, like Apple. They have Windows, Windows RT and Windows Phone. While it would make sense to unify the Windows Phone and Windows RT markets, throwing in the Windows 8 presents a nightmare-ish task.

So, when it comes to unification of markets, I'd rather see them unifying Windows Phone and RT marketplaces but leave Windows 8 outside. Unless they intend to heavily update the Windows Phone OS to bring it closer to Windows RT. And honestly, only really naïve people can believe that in the near future given the abysmally slow pace WP develops.

Now lets think of a scenario post-unification.
Everything went well and we have an unified market between Windows Phone and Windows.

Lets think App costs. Lets think, for example, Angry Birds. On Windows Phone it costs 0.99€. On Windows RT it costs 3,99€.
If you introduce a policy of once purchase, you'll necessarily have to introduce a wider price range within the same App. Otherwise developers will obviously tag the App at the higher price due to production costs. And that presents a problem for everyone.
Think about these scenarios:
1 - You own a Windows Phone and you own a Windows tablet.
2 - You own a Windows Phone but you own and Android/iOS tablet.
3 - You own an Android/iOS phone but your tablet is a Windows tablet.

Now lets think about this:
1 - You have a phone/tablet Windows combo. You buy Angry Birds for 2.99€/3.99€. You get the game on the tablet and on the phone. Excellent.
2 - You only own a Windows Phone. Why would you pay now more for a game that only runs on your phone if you won't enjoy it on the tablet? The increasing of the price will very likely lead you to not buy the game. The developer lost two sales. He lost the sale of the tablet version, which you would not by from the start. But he also lost the phone purchase that he would more likely get from you if he hadn't risen the price.

3 - You only have a Windows tablet. Why would you pay more for an App than you could, just because you can also get it on a phone you don't own? Same as number 2 applies.

Let us not forget Microsoft isn't Apple. The idea here is to bring more people to the platforms, both RT and WP mainly.

So, I think the best way to go about this unification is to create the CHOICE of price. Have a 3 prices policy. That way you can chose if you want to buy the game only for your phone at one price, only for your tablet at another price, or for both devices at a third price (which must be lower than the combination of the other two prices). This way you don't overcharge those who want just the app on their phones, you don't undercharge those who want it only on their tablets and you even recompense those who have the ecosystem (and don't forget your windows devices are registered with Microsoft, so they know what you have or don't have. So there's little trouble with smartarses trying to go around this.)

You're thinking about it in a very difficult way. Think of it like the WP store is now. You have some apps for WP7 devices, some for WP8, and some that work for both. The only difference with this transition is that there are already WP and W8/RT apps that are, in one way or another, functionally the same. The decision then needs to be made as to which version becomes the combined app and which version gets scrapped. The idea is unified purchases and that can't be achieved by the model you explain.

Except the Apps build for WP don't work on Windows. You need to build two Apps either way. Unless you replace WP with Windows RT. Again, not happening in the near future. It's not really the same as WP7 and WP8.
And also, that unified purchase you mean would still bring forth the problems I exposed. That wouldn't help neither the tablets business nor the WP business.

I might just like this model you put forth. But then, I'd just play Angry Birds on my phone for $0.99. There is a pricing model above on this thread that I like as well.. Hmmmmm

I could agree to a 3-tier pricing policy with the best bargain being if you're all in with the MSFT ecosystem.  How about when Xbox is integrated?  Would that require another tier you think?

I would love to install the WPCentral app on my tablets. Its much faster than the browser that is loaded with pictures and ads.

Jay is working on the Windows version of the App. I think it was purposely delayed so it can come already optimized for 8.1 ;)

Just chiming in to saw how awesome the title image to this article is.
 
It really shows off how great the new sync features of Wndows 8.1 are, and how versatiile and cool the Start screen can be across multiple device types and sizes (would have loved to see an Acer W3 in there too for more comparison), nicely done!
 
I only have 8.1 preview on my tablet so far, looking forward to the finl version so I can get it going on m desktop and get everything syncing so they're no so independantly set up.
 
As for the article itself, I think we all knew this was happening anyway so not exactly surprising but nice to know it's still coming. And also to have an answer to the main question I had, which was: "Won't Windows 8.1 need an update if WP8.1 isn't coming till months after?". Now we know, yes it does and yes it will get an update. Lovely! :)
 
I'm hopeful we'lll see a lot morre syncronisation and commmunication/compatibility between the two with WP 8.1 along the lines of the type of sync we see in that opening photo.

God MS why are you so slow. Apple is always 3 steps ahead :(

UI needs an overhaul for both phone and tablet. Stores need merging. There is no notification centre. No innovative design for the phone interface.

Come on Redmond don't let us down..

So they are moving ahead but not on your time frame? This is a huge organizational shift, stuff takes time, once they are together things should gel a lot quicker.

They promised this shift as a part of W8/WP8 transition from W7/WP7.8. Hell it's why I switched from Apple. Feels great to be sold the same shit twice, after being duped close to 2 years.

"Rumour is confirmed as The Verge reported...." since when is Verge the official Microsoft channel and WPCentral approves that?!

Unify with Xbox and do it right and that is huge! Glad to see Microsoft becoming more customer and developer friendly again.

This is too slow in my opinion. I think it moves windows and WP "blue" from early to mid 2014. Too far behind. Someone help me because I'm really losing hope

How exactly is an unnamed source supposedly quoting something said by an executive in a closed, internal meeting, confirmed? By that standard, there are aliens hanging out at Area 51 and the Da Vinci Code is a history book.

About bloody time is all I can say... Like I am sure others have said I hate buying apps twice. In fact I often do not buy and App if it is available for both purely because I fell like I am being ripped off!

Thank goodness. Insane paying for the same app in two places. Why couldn't MSFT have taken AAPL's route, would've been less painful for them.

Well, MSFT has PC/Laptop/Tablet allready covered in one App Store. Adding Windows Phone (and Xbox One) is an even better route.

I wasn't aware you could run ipad apps on a macbook without a repurchase if they are available.
Looks like Apple isn't either

Sweeet, that's just great. Now the developers will have a larger user base so creating a new app will be more profitable.

They better get this done quick.  Developers might wait to see where the future lies before they begin new projects.  Should they use the phone model or the metro model?  Or is there a new model for both?

Its really the same model. If developers use the recommended practices their actual code should be quite portable, and I feel an effort from Microsoft could push that to basically 100% compatibility. Then its just up to the dev to make different interfaces for the two versions, which XAML makes easy.

Soon, maybe, side-loading from IOS app? That would be great for WP, even if the app isn't metro. Some apps don't need metro, like some games.

There already is since Microsoft Points died. Any credit in your Microsoft Account can be used on Xbox, W8 & WP8.

Not only can MS be slow, they can often be (and frequently are) consumer-stupid. (No copy/paste in WP7, etc.) Nice to see they've smelt the coffee.

So they are just figuring this out now?   Something that IOS and Android have been doing for years.  And being so late to the mobile and tablet arena, I don't understand how microsoft didn't think about having a unified store right away when they were creating wp8 and w8.   And not to sound more cynical, it wouldn't surprise me if the unified store will only be allowed in wp9 and wp8 devices are SOL.   
It's getting harder and harder to be a fan of this company.  Their decision making, various delays and strategies are really baffling to me-the recent xbone release fiasco, exuberant surface rt orders and the delay of wp8.1 come to mind.  I understand they are going through a major regor, but how many times can a company tell us to wait next year, it will get better? 
Personally, I think the root of their problems lies with their core compentency and cash cow, windows.  Many of their  strategic descisons have been made to protect windows.  Windows is ubiquitous to pc's and microsoft is trying to replicate that in mobile.  This might have worked if Apple never made the ipod many years ago but their problems are perception (of windows) and consumers have alternatives that are better.  When they finally tossed out windows mobile 6xx (2 years too late) and decided to start fresh, I think they should have distanced it from windows as much as possible-start fresh and have nothing to do with windows. 
Just my two cents

I want them to merge the Xbox store while they are at it. Let me buy an app once and run it on any ms device it is available for.

Lol. I'll believe it when I see it. Spring 2014 will turn into Fall, then 2015...... Enough talk

This was actually promised as a Windows 8 feature: Unified ecosystem across all devices. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that it was more fragmented even worse than Apple's stores. I still feel cheated, this was mainly why I jumped on board with W8/WP8 as freely as I did.

Ok... So I like paid 5 bucks for plants vs zombies 2 years ago. Does this mean I will be able to play it on my surface?