If Microsoft can open bricks and mortar stores, why not build one in to every copy of Windows 7?
The app store concept is one of the few bright spots in most technology company arsenals this year. Apple lead the ways with the juggernaut that is iTunes+iPhone, while Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft all sell games online for their consoles. So, it’s a natural step for Microsoft to include a dedicated applications/music/video/games store as part of Windows 7, distinct from the current Microsoft-product only web site (below), Windows Media Player stores and other disparate methods of online shopping that it currently uses.
Microsoft's current store is for its own products only
The prospects seem good, as stores are becoming a part of almost every computer, phone or gadget system. For example, Sony's next edition PSP console is rumoured to be digital download only, making the PlayStation Network store an essential focal point for users, while Nokia launched its own mobile store at Mobile World Congress back in February.
So, all the signs are good that Microsoft will add a little icon, perhaps with nice beckoning glass doors, on the desktop allowing users to buy and download Microsoft's own range of software as well as that of partner companies, perhaps even higher level shareware developers, and, just maybe, – home coders who have created their own unique games, ingenious utilities and other programs that Windows users might be crying out for.
The most popular store currently available for PC users is Valve's Steam gaming service that was an early entrant in terms of offering a buying environment with a community and support service, it would certainly be a boost to PC gaming if Steam could play an integral part in Windows' future. Although, since Microsoft does not currently offer its games over Steam, perhaps that is a stretch too far.
Either way, it would seem strange for Microsoft to release Windows 7 without some type of store, given the decline in boxed software and the rise of online shopping. Digging online for hard information, late last year there was a flurry of stories about a service called "Skymarket" and some comments from Steve Ballmer about Microsoft's interest in developing a store, when better to launch than alongside Windows 7, or perhaps via the Windows Live route?