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Tuesday, December 06, 2011, 11:58 pm PT (02:58 am ET)

Windows Store discounts, optional subscriptions to undercut Apple's App Store

Microsoft released new details of its Windows 8 plans on Tuesday, differentiating its upcoming Windows Store from Apple's own App Store and Mac App Store by offering a 20/80 revenue split to developers after their first $25,000 in sales and allowing third-party in-app purchase and subscription options.

The Redmond, Wash., Windows maker also announced on Tuesday an upcoming public beta of the next version of Windows in late February, ahead of a release sometime in 2012, MacNN reports.

Microsoft Web Services VP Antoine LeBlond touted the company's Windows Store, a feature in Windows 8 that resembles Apple's own digital storefront models, as being more friendly to publishers and developers. Though the software maker plans to offer in-app purchase and subscription features, developers will be allowed to use alternative options as well.

Leblond highlighted an application from The Daily Telegraph that used its own back-end systems to process subscriptions.

"It’s not an app you could have on the iPad," he said, adding that his company was looking to find a balance between differing strategies from Apple and Google. Where Apple has quality control and a strict, and sometimes opaque, approval process, Google has a lax approval process that sometimes suffers from malware issues.

Microsoft is also looking to woo developers to its application store by undercutting Apple's 70/30 revenue split. The software giant will take a 30 percent cut only for the first $25,000 in app sales or in-app transactions before dropping its take to just 20 percent. The Windows Store will, however have a higher minimum price of $1.49.

The company will also require that touch-based Metro apps be offered through the Windows Store. Microsoft first teased the application store in a preview of Windows 8 earlier this year. In August, Windows chief Steven Sinofsky revealed that the company had an "App Store" team that was hard at work on the storefront.



Microsoft has been a highly vocal opponent of Apple's application to trademark the "App Store" name, arguing that the mark is invalid because it is generic. Apple fired back at its long-time rival by arguing that "Windows" is also a generic term.

For its part, Apple has taken flak for its rules on in-app purchases and subscriptions. In February, the company unveiled the terms of its subscription feature, banning links to external websites to purchase content or subscriptions. A number of prominent publishers and developers initially balked at the rules, though many eventually acquiesced. Apple itself conceded some ground in June when it loosened up on a restriction that prevented developers from selling content at a lower price outside of the App Store.