Hoping for dirt-cheap Windows 8 Metro apps when the operating system ships? If your definition of dirt-cheap is 99 cents, you're out of luck. The minimum for paid apps in the Windows Store will be $1.49.
That information was revealed in a blog post by Arik Cohen, Microsoft Lead Program Manager for Commerce and Licensing team. In a post explaining how the Windows Store will work, he wrote that the minimum price for apps will be $1.49, with a maximum price of $999.99. He didn't write about free apps, but of course, they'll be allowed in the Windows Store and there will be plenty of them.
The minimum price of $1.49 is baffling, and also, I think, too high. Apple's App Store has a minimum price of 99 cents for paid apps. Why would Microsoft consciously set the price of Windows 8's lowest-cost apps at 50 percent more than Apple's?
Sure, 50 cents doesn't sound like much, but apps are frequently a spur-of-the-moment purchase, and it's pyschologically much easier to click on an app and pay 99 cents than it is to click on one and pay $1.49. So users are less likely to buy, and more likely to feel that they're getting less value out of the operating system than they should.
In Windows 8, you'll need to go through the Windows Store to install Metro apps. However, you'll be able to install Desktop apps via the Desktop, outside the store. So the $1.49 minimum doesn't apply for Desktop apps. However, for Windows RT-based tablets, the Windows Store will be the only way to install apps.
Not directly addressed in the post is whether the $1.49 minimum price will be for Windows 8 mobile apps. If so, that's an even bigger problem. Windows Phone has a minuscule market share, and needs to do everything it can to make any headway against the iPhone or Android. Forcing Windows Phone users to pay 50 percent more for the cheapest apps than on the iPhone is no way to catch up.