Microsoft Corp. today announced the immediate availability of the Windows 8.1 Preview, the next update of the Windows operating system, at the company’s developer-focused Build conference.
As part of the conference’s keynote speech, the company outlined the reach, design and economic opportunities for developers to build differentiated, touch-based apps for the Windows platform, including new developer tools and increased support.
Company executives also highlighted new top apps coming to Windows, including Facebook, Flipboard and NFL — clear evidence of the steady app momentum for Windows, which is experiencing the fastest growth across any platform.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was joined on stage by Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of Windows, and other company executives to demo the Windows 8.1 Preview, focusing on key areas of personalization, search powered by Bing, increased functionality for businesses, new in-the-box apps and more.
“With Windows 8 we built a new Windows, reimagined from the chipset to the experience. It was an ambitious vision, and with Windows 8.1 we refine it,” Larson-Green said. “Windows 8.1 will support the widest range of tablets and PCs and demonstrates how responsive we can be for customers. The preview we are releasing today is an important step for partners around the world that are building the next generation of Windows devices and apps.”
Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president of Windows Program Management, also took the stage to outline how Windows 8.1 provides additional opportunity for developers to design, build and market their Windows Store apps. He reinforced the best-in-class economics — developers keep 80 percent of the revenue for the lifetime of the app once it crosses the $25,000 revenue threshold.
He also highlighted new updates, including the following:
Redesigned Windows Store. The Windows Store has been completely redesigned in Windows 8.1 to reach engaged customers and connect them more effectively and quickly to the apps they want. This includes increased merchandising opportunities for apps and better discoverability based on an individual’s preferences, as well as new search controls from Bing in the user interface. App listings have a new layout with refined navigation and more related content.
More monetization opportunities. Windows 8.1 delivers new opportunities for developers to build and monetize apps and engage users. Leblond introduced Windows Store gift cards, an easy way for consumers to purchase apps, books, games and content. Customers will be able to load their Microsoft Account with stored value in their local currency and make purchases online from the Windows Store. For developers in China, the Windows Store will support Alipay, meaning local developers will have new options to generate additional revenue.
Leading experiences. Windows 8.1 offers developers a canvas to present and develop compelling app designs. Windows 8.1 apps can work together to share data, share the screen and deliver richer customer experiences across a range of devices, including new 8-inch-and-below form factors.