Microsoft’s trends report: Windows 8.1 adoption rates improve, in-app purchases strongly recommended

Staff Writer

Windows Store

Microsoft’s blog has a series which analyzes the data from Windows and Windows Phone stores. These articles provide data about the stores so developers can make educated decisions and maximize the impact of their app. An update to these series today focuses on the adoption rates, in-app purchases, and regions, as of September 2014. Let’s take a look at it.

Adoption for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1

Windows 8.1 adoption rates have improved and the OS now accounts for about 70% of downloads from the Windows Store. Windows Phone 8.1 rates also continue to grow, with devices running Windows Phone 7.x (any variation of Windows Phone 7) now account for less than 5% of all downloads.

Now, Microsoft doesn’t provide any hard numbers, but percentages, so it is hard to gauge the performance of the platform from this data. However, if you’re a developer, they provide reason enough to aim at the latest iteration of the OS for your app.

Further, Microsoft is pushing the adoption of their universal project feature in Visual Studio. This enables you to develop for both Windows Phone and Windows from one project, and leverages one platform to make the other appealing for developers. Alongside options to use XAML or WinJS, Microsoft is attempting to make developing for Windows Phone as appealing as they can.

In-App Purchases

Microsoft seems to be really pushing developers to add in-app purchases. The tech-giant added this feature in Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.1. Looking at their charts, we can indeed see that In-App purchases are growing the fastest.

Additionally, Microsoft points to the top grossing apps in the store and you can see that the top 20 and 44 of the top 50 apps have an in-app purchase option, although we don’t know how much that actually contributes per app.

Most apps provide in-purchases that amount to less than $2.00; however, Microsoft points out that these top 20 games have in-app purchases from $0.99 to $99.99 (the mean is $24.84). While that may be true, it’s not clear that consumers actually significantly purchase any of the higher offerings.

Even with this data, Microsoft somehow generally concluded that “… we strongly recommend consider using the in-app purchase model to increase your app revenue,” but I’d highly consider not doing so for anything other than games.

Categories and Regions

Microsoft has also provided data on the downloads by categories. Downloads by category has Games at the top of both stores.

Downloads by category

While downloads per number of apps shows a slightly different story:

Ratio of Downloads to Apps

I think these charts may show you more of where quality is lacking. However, they do also show where the focus seems to be, which is undoubtedly gaming. While it seems pretty tempting to make a game, there is also a lot of ‘noise’ in the category, and be prepared to market if you want your game to stand out.

Next, you should consider the different regions. Windows Store is available in 242 markets, with the Windows Phone Store available in 191 markets. The United States remains the biggest market for the Windows and Windows Phone Store, with 33% and 31% market respectfully.

And these markets also speak different languages. The Windows Store is dominated by English with around 40%, while it only has less than 25% of the Windows Phone Store. If you are a bigger studio with resources, it is definitely worth looking into more languages and regions to help your app sell internationally. If, however, you are a smaller developer going for a universal appeal, it still makes sense to start off with English and the US market. Keep in mind that an English supported app might sell decently in places like Germany, while the German language will not help your app sell in the United States.


Microsoft is continuing to give data to developers so that they can get the best results from their work. You can read more about this data here, and other older articles here and here.

Do keep in mind to look at their data in different perspectives, since part of what they are doing with their ‘trends report’ is selling their platform to you.