With today's Windows 8 Consumer Preview debut, Microsoft is also launching an apps marketplace in the form of the Windows Store. The Store is hardly overflowing with apps on launch — we're not seeing much in the way of Twitter clients — but you'll still find a nice selection including apps like MSNBC, Vimeo, Photobucket, Evernote, Cut the Rope, and more. Kindle and Wordpress apps, among others, are on the way. How's Microsoft's newest store hold up? Read on!
Windows Store basics
Users of the Windows Phone Marketplace will feel right at home here. On launching the Windows Store, you'll see a curated Spotlight section, currently showing off the winners of Microsoft's First Apps Contest and the option to dig down into the top paid and free apps. Swiping left reveals apps organized by type, with the usual app store mix of everything from games and social to productivity and shopping. At launch, only some sections let you view the top paid/free views; we assume all sections will gain this view as the Windows Store fills out with more apps.
While it's not immediately apparent, you can search the Windows Store by swiping in from the right side of the screen, and tap the search icon. Search results will appear in the main pane, where you can further tweak your search results by category, price, and sort order.
Apps and Installation
Whether you've found an app via search or are tapping through from the Store's main screen, each app has its own profile with a full overview (including screenshots), details, and user reviews. The left rail shows permissions required by the app (e.g. whether it will access your webcam, photos, etc...), and offers one tap star ratings. The right rail shows a full description and the latest features, and you can tap through additional details like supported processors and languages, and read and sort user reviews.
On your first app installation, the Store prompts you with your password; subsequent free downloads will start immediately on pressing 'install. Note: we're not seeing any paid apps yet. After tapping 'install,' you'll be taken back to the Store's main screen after starting the install process, where you can continue other tasks. Once your download is complete, you'll receive a notification in the top right of your screen that, when tapped, loads the app. Additionally, the app can be accessed in a tile on the far right of your Start screen.
While many of the components here are what we've come to expect from modern app marketplaces, the Metro UI makes it an especially clean and easy-to-use interface for both new users and pros.
Be sure to read our complete hands-on of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview here.