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Feature Articles

Welcome to the Windows Store!

By James Lu & Ng Chong Seng - 23 Oct 2012

Windows Store - Searching & Installing Apps


Welcome to the Windows Store

Ask any iPhone user why Apple's smartphone appeals to them, and we're pretty sure that the App Store will rank among the top reasons. Indeed, it's no coincidence that the two leading mobile OSes (Android and iOS) also have the world's two largest mobile app platforms. In the last couple of years, this app store concept has been making its way to other platforms, most notably, the desktop. In January 2011, Apple launched its Mac App Store. Come October 26, Microsoft will debut the Windows Store alongside its Windows 8 OS.

In Windows 8, the store is accessed via the Modern-style Windows Store app that's simply named 'Store' on your Start screen. When Microsoft made the Windows 8 Release Preview available, the store only had free apps; but ever since the OS has been released to manufacturing, more paid apps have started cropping up. We're sure the overall number will be a lot higher come October 26 when the OS becomes widely available.

The Store app is a typical Modern-style app, and that means it opens up full screen, and uses a tile layout with a bias for horizontal scrolling. If you've a mouse connected, you will notice a horizontal scroll bar across the bottom. Semantic zoom is fully supported, which lets you easily and quickly navigate from one end of the horizontal layout to the other.

The Windows Store app uses a single, chromeless windows that takes up the whole screen.

Semantic zoom is supported in the Windows Store to make presenting and navigating large sets of content in a single view easier.

If you've a mouse connected, you'd see a horizontal scrollbar at the bottom. Clicking on the dash button will activate the zoomed out view.


Finding Apps

Apps are grouped in easy-to-find categories such as Games, Social, Entertainment, Photos, Music & Video, Sports, Books & Reference, News & Weather, Health & Fitness, Food & Dining, Lifestyle, Shopping, Travel, Finance, Productivity, Tools, Security, Business, Education, and Government - that's a total of 20 categories! A few apps pertaining to each category are highlighted (and constantly refreshed) right on the main Store page, but you can also choose to browse each category sorted by top free apps and new releases. In addition, positioned at the very front of the Store is a category called 'Spotlight', which highlights some of the top apps across all the 20 categories. This Spotlight category has its own Top free and New releases sections as well.

Apps in a group are listed as rectangle tiles. At a glance, you can see their names, user ratings, and prices.

If you prefer to search directly for an app, you can do so by using the Search Charm (provided you know at least part of the name).

Know the name of the app? Use the Search Charm to find it quickly.

What if you just want to browse apps in a particular category sorted according to their prices, or release dates? Turns out, there's a way to do this somewhat. When you hit on a category name on the main store page, you'll be brought to an app listing with a few drop-down menus at the top. From here you can sort apps according to their price types (all prices, free, free and trial, paid), and prices (sort by lowest price, sort by highest price). You can also 'sort by noteworthy' (we've no idea what's the criteria for this), ratings, and release dates. For categories that allow it (such as Games), you can even sort by their subcategories.

Use the drop-down menus to sort the apps according to subcategories, ratings, prices, and release dates.


Installing & Buying Apps

Selecting an app will bring you to its app page, which gives you an overview of the app, as well as more detailed information and any user reviews. You will also see the price and size of the app. If it's a free app, you'll see a 'Install' button. If it's a paid app, you'll see a 'Buy' button. Either way, before it proceeds to download the app, Windows Store will prompt you to sign in to your Microsoft account. If you're buying an app and haven't already linked a credit card to your Microsoft account, you'll then be directed to a page where you can enter your credit card information.

The individual app view shows you more details about the app, such as what it does, release notes and supported processors, and user reviews. You can also install or buy the app from here.

Via the Settings Charm, you can access the 'Your account' page. Here, you can add a payment method and see the names of the PCs that you've installed apps on. You can install an app that you get from the Store on up to five PCs.

Major credit card types as well as PayPal are supported.

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