I’m among the not-so-chosen not-so-few who revile restriction on any computing device to a specific set of applications furnished by a single central entity, i.e. an “app store”. And yet, we live in a post-App-Store world. Even on Android devices capable of running applications from any sources, most users jump into the official app store and load up on goodies. So why are there no app stores on the desktop?
Well, there are. Just look at Ubuntu. If you’re a non-power-user (i.e. the words “apt-get” mean nothing to you), you pop open the “Ubuntu Software Center”, and you’re instantly presented with a plethora of pre-approved packages sure to satisfy almost every need. Check, “Apply”, Use.
And to complete the “App Storishness”, today Canonical announced an approval process for 3rd-party apps. Voila! An Apple-style app store right on your desktop. It just so happens, every app in it is free.
True, the need to provide users easy access and installation to new apps was more dire on Linux than on Windows or MacOS, but it is not exclusive to Linux. There are more applications for Windows than for any other platform, but there is no prominent bundled central marketplace application to bring order to chaos. For the life of me, I cannot understand why. Why does Microsoft overlook the opportunity to collect a commission on every piece of software sold through this channel? Does it still fear being branded as a monopolist in a new world where everyone is a monopolist? Does it believe so fervently in “life without walls” that it looks past the droves of consumers clamoring for walls?
From a technical standpoint, an app store would be a goldmine in eliminating much of the Windows bashers’ fodder. By creating a direct marketing channel with strict technical requirements, it could mandate essential development best practices, such as respecting UAC and privilege separation, restricting memory-resident baddies, using the “suggested” directory structure, staying away from private APIs, etc. Users win convenience and stability. Vendors win access to users. Microsoft wins money.
So where the heck is my app store?