Microsoft yesterday added its Office suite to Windows 8's online store, the first non-Metro application to be listed in the e-mart.
The move tipped how Microsoft will promote traditional x86/64 desktop software through the Windows Store.
Rather than offer Office 2010 as a download direct from the new app store, Microsoft simply provided a link to its already-active download-and-purchase Office website.
Unlike Metro apps, which will be available for purchase when the full Windows Store goes live later this year, desktop programs will not use the e-market's integrated buying and delivery technology.
Microsoft's developer agreement made that clear.
"You may submit an app description for one or more desktop apps to the pre-release version of the Windows Store," the App Developer Agreement, last updated May 31, reads. "Notwithstanding anything else in this agreement, you understand that Microsoft will not offer any desktop apps through the Store and only Metro style apps are made available through the Windows Store."
By "offer" Microsoft probably means app sales and fulfillment.
Other requirements for desktop program submissions clarified that the Windows Store will only point potential buyers to an external website.
"Microsoft may, but is not required to, list the desktop app in the Windows Store together with a link you provide, to a website where users can acquire the app," the agreement states. "You are solely responsible and agree to maintain that website and provide an updated link to Microsoft if the URL changes."
The company defined a desktop application as "Any apps built using APIs other than the APIs for Metro style apps that run on Windows 8."
One gray area is browsers, which are the only type of software allowed to call both Win32 APIs (application programming interfaces) from the desktop mode and WinRT APIs, those used to craft Metro apps.
But while Microsoft will take a 30% cut of all Metro apps for the first $25,000 in sales, then 20% after that, it's unclear what, if anything, the company will demand from desktop app developers for listing their work in the store.
The listings, in fact, may be free, as the pertinent paragraph in the developer agreement makes no mention of a listing fee.
Microsoft did not discount Office 2010 through the Windows Store: The prices on the destination URL start at $120 for a single-license edition of Office Home and Student and climb to $500 for a two-license copy of Office Professional.
The Windows Store will offer only free apps until the debut of Windows 8, which most analysts expect in the fourth quarter.
The first desktop application to be listed in the Windows 8 app store is, not surprisingly, Microsoft's own Office 2010.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is [email protected].
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