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  • Writer's pictureCharlie Jackson

Benefits of Windows app store

Updated: Mar 20, 2020

I’ve been surprised lately at how many people are themselves surprised that I think it’s a great thing to be able to sell Silicon Beach Software’s first offering, SaviDraw, exclusively through the Microsoft Store (the online Store, for apps, just to clarify). And when I tell them the primary reason, they’ve never even considered this.

There are actually a couple of reasons for selling through the Store.

• First and foremost is that there’s no piracy of our software. A product that is purchased through the Store is tied to the purchaser’s Store account. They can’t just pass the software around.

This is huge. Here’s an anecdotal story about how it was in the past, when we shipped software on disks. Back then, we would find a distributor in a foreign country, who would localize the product. But I remember that after doing this in a European country, an American living there wrote to us, saying “it’s too bad you won’t get much in the way of sales here. The first couple of disks that were sold became the master duplication disks for everyone else.” In fact, we sold a grand total of five copies of the software in that country.

With no piracy, we can price our products much lower. SaviDraw is $20 US. This kind of software used to cost at least $150. And with the subscription model that big companies prefer these days, you may be paying $20, but that’s EVERY month, not just one time.

• The second advantage of the Store is updates. To get an updated version to our users, all we have to do is upload that version to the Store and they automatically get it. We don’t have to mail out new disks anymore, or figure out how to get an update to everyone who downloaded the software from our website. This used to be a big headache, and it could be a significant cost to the publisher. Now, it costs us nothing for the logistics of providing an update. I personally love this one. My wife used to run the Upgrades department in our first software company. Looks like she won’t have a job this time.

• Because we can localize software ourselves and sell worldwide through the Store, we don’t have to use distributors outside the U.S. to do that localization and give them even more of the margin. And we don’t have to try to figure out how to sell directly in 142 countries. That would be an impossibility for startup.

• Users can be assured that viruses and malware are filtered out. This is a compelling reason for buyers to go through the Store. I’ve heard many times that for a lot of people, this is the number one reason to use an app store. The buyers want to be there, so I want to be there.

• We can easily provide a free trial version for a set period of time, and we don’t have to do anything on our end to make that happen (well, other than checking a box in the app submission process).

• Another big one is that there’s much less cost for tech support. People have to go back to the Store page, find the Publisher’s website, then find Support on that website (if it’s even offered) then send an email. The reality is, they just don’t do that so readily. In prehistoric times (you know, back before the internet), we had people answering the phones in tech support. And, we had to print expensive User Manuals that were placed in the box. Now it’s just a PDF file on the website, since there’s no box to put a printed user manual into. At least we do provide a thorough User Manual. I’m amazed at how many companies provide no documentation at all with their products. (That’s really pathetic, too.)

The only disadvantage to selling through the Store versus selling direct to customers with a download is that there is no direct contact with the buyer. The Store has the buyer, not the publisher. This results in less feedback, but there are ways to get out there and get feedback, so this is not a big concern.

• Recently, Microsoft changed their fee from 30% of the price to just 5%. That’s a phenomenally low cost for distribution. In the early days of my first company, distributors would pay us 50% of list price. Remember that $150 figure? That was needed because we would only get $75, and had more much overhead than now.

• We receive one check each month from Microsoft. My first company had seven people in the accounting group. Now, I think my wife will be able to handle “all” the accounting in her spare time – sorry, still no full-time job for her. (I don’t think she’s actually too sorry about this.)

See the trend here of much lower costs to be in the software business, and thus the ability to price the software lower?

And that’s why I am very happy to be selling through the Microsoft Store.

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