When it comes to major changes between Windows 7 and Windows 8, the Metro user interface should come to mind first for many users who know both operating systems. But Windows 8 features more than just a new interface. Windows Store for instance which is a long-requested addition to the Windows operating system. While only designed for Metro applications, it is important for a number of reasons.
- It is the first native store integrated into the operating system
- Users can buy, download and install apps right from their desktop, in a trusted environment
- Microsoft will create a new revenue source that will grow considerably over time
The Windows Store version that Microsoft included in the Consumer Preview has been criticized for a number of reasons, among them the failure to include desktop applications in the store, or a confusing navigation. Microsoft has made modifications to the store in the Release Preview of Windows 8 that the company released yesterday, lets take a look at what’s new and what has been improved.
The store in its current form supports 26 different markets, or locales, which is an increase of 21 from the 5 the Consumer Preview supported. While that is still not all markets that Microsoft targets with Windows, the company noted that it will expand the service further in the coming months. For now, unsupported markets will see a generic catalog.
As far as navigation goes, the initial release of Windows Store was criticized for being difficulty to navigate in, especially the return to home link and the page listing all installed applications were not found easily by many testers.
Microsoft has added a nav bar to the Windows Store that users can display when they right-click on a blank spot in the store. This nav bar leads directly to the homepage of the store, or to the installed applications on the system.
Microsoft furthermore has added the Metro-style command bar to application installations, to provide better app management. The bar allows you to pause or cancel the download or installation of apps in the operating system.
Another change is the new Share contracts mechanism, that you can use to share discovered apps with contacts right from the apps listing page in the store. Just move the mouse cursor to the lower right corner of the screen, select Share from the Charms menu and then the share option that you would like to use.
Desktop apps are now also listed in the store, but do not function in the same way as Metro apps. While they are listed in the store, the store fronts only link to the program homepages. This basically means that the applications need to be purchased, downloaded and installed manually, instead of automatically. Still, the addition of desktop apps is a step in the right direction for Microsoft and users.
You find more information about the updated Windows 8 Store over at the Windows Store blog.