Microsoft will introduce a Windows Store in the Windows 8 operating system that can be accessed directly from within the operating system. Navigation of the store will be consistent with the Metro UI, and the store layout has been designed with touch interfaces in mind. The store on first look looks like a horizontal copy of Google’s Chrome web store. Apps are displayed in rectangles with the logo making up the majority of screen estate, while the apps title, costs and ratings are displayed in a smaller area at the bottom of the screen.
The store landing page will be the first page that users see when they open the store. Microsoft intents to feature interesting apps there, but also app categories that are easily reachable by scrolling horizontally in the store window.
The store has been designed with touch in mind, which becomes apparent in this paragraph:
Navigation is simple and consistent with Windows 8 Metro style UI, so it will be familiar and easy for Windows 8 users to find their way through the Store. Store categories are presented across the top of the screen, with compelling apps featured in each category. To browse, you simply pan to the right or left—with a flick of the finger it’s incredibly easy to see new and interesting apps across all categories and the overall breadth of the Store. If you’re interested, you can also drill down to the apps in a specific category with a single tap on a category name.
Mouse and keyboard users, the majority of Windows users right now, can use those input devices to navigate the store. The experience won’t be that pretty though, considering that scrolling pages horizontally is not that common with these input devices.
The store front categories will feature “a set of apps that are editorially chosen based on a variety of factors, including whether they do a great job on the platform or a great job expressing Metro style design principles”.
It is possible to use the pinch gesture to zoom out of the store interface to get a zoomed out view of the store to pick specific categories right away. You may remember that this is also possible in the Metro UI to quickly get an overview over all installed apps on the system.
Searching the store, unsurprisingly, uses the same mechanics that Metro UI search uses. Just tap on the search charm to display the search sidebar on the right. This feature is available in all Metro UI windows and apps.
If you happen to think of an app while browsing the web or using another app, you can just tap the Search charm, type in your search term, and select the Store to see search results for your query.
Suggestions are displayed while you type the search phrase into the form. Windows 8 will display a search results page in case no app matches what you are looking for.
The very same layout is also used for all category pages in the store. Users can filter results in a variety of ways. It is for instance possible to only display free apps, sort by newest or display only a specific subcategory that is available.
Individual app listing pages follow all the same layout. The pages use visual elements of the apps brand color and logo on the app pages which means that colors will vary widely across the board.
Microsoft notes that it takes one tap on an app listing page to install free or trial apps. A password prompt is displayed for paid apps that acts as a confirmation to go ahead with the purchase. Users are automatically taken back to the previous page they were looking at while the app is downloading and installing in the background.
A progress indicator is displayed and the app is automatically added to the start page, so that you now that everything is going along as planned.
Update checks for new app versions are performed once a day according to Microsoft. These updates are automatically downloaded in the background when the computer is idle. They won’t be installed without user input though. This behavior can be turned off in the Store settings.
All apps can be installed on a total of five different PCs running Windows 8. This sounds as if information about installed apps are synchronized with other PCs of the user automatically.
Here is a short video that offers additional information and details:
You can find out more about the Windows Store user experience on the official Windows Store blog.