One of the changes Microsoft introduced when it launched Windows 10 was the ability to show suggested applications, aka advertisements, within the Start Menu and on the lock screen. The “suggested application” function can be disabled relatively easily, but Microsoft is making changes in Windows 10 to increase application visibility and hopefully entice more users to head for the Windows Store.
Once the Anniversary Update drops, the number of promoted apps in the Start Menu will double, from five to 10. To accommodate this change, the number of static Microsoft applications will decrease, from 17 to 12.
Many of these promoted applications (aka Programmable Tiles) aren’t actually installed on the system by default. Instead, they take the user to the Windows Store where the app can be installed.
Neowin isn’t sure if this will apply to existing Windows 10 PCs, or if this change will only go live on new installations. Either way, it’s a smart move for Microsoft.
One of the most significant barriers to Windows Store adoption is the entrenched behavior of Windows’ users. For decades, Windows users have been used to downloading software from various sites on the Internet. If you need a media player, you use VLC or MPC-HC. If you need messaging software, you can download various apps from individual vendors or grab an all-in-one product like Trillian or Pidgin. Your first browser might come from Microsoft, but if you want something else you’ll head for Firefox or Google Chrome.
Microsoft wants users to see the Windows Store as a one-stop shop for its applications, but it’s difficult to shift how people use a system they’ve spent decades with. We don’t blame the company for using promoted apps what the Windows Store can offer. The problem is, the majority of the programs we’ve seen on the Windows Store don’t compare well against the applications you can download on the Internet. We’ve chronicled the problems with various UWP games already, but applications you download from the Windows Store are often tablet-centric and explicitly designed around certain limitations Microsoft enforces.
The real problem for the Windows Store isn’t getting people to look at it — it’s building up an application library of stuff people want to actually use. This has been a problem for Microsoft since it launched Windows 8, and while the store’s layout and UI have improved significantly, breakout application successes are few and far between. The app model simply hasn’t caught on for desktop software, possibly because most people expect PC software to be more complicated and have a greater range of capability than the application-equivalent. On a smartphone or tablet, apps can be good stand-ins for browsing or using websites. On desktops, the existing paradigm is different. Unless Microsoft can offer users some stellar software, it may not see the uptake it’s looking for, no matter how many PC users upgrade to Windows 10.