Microsoft did a great job at its Windows 8 launch event demonstrating what makes Windows 8 unique and exciting. It also wowed the crowd with cool new designs, from slates with pens to Ultrabooks with screens that flip around. The app story fell flat though. Where is Facebook? Twitter? Angry Birds? Instead, we saw demos of just three third-party apps most people already knew about.
The Hulu app looked cool on stage at Microsoft's event, with smooth playback of a Fringe episode. We especially like how you can Snap the window to the side while you check email. Urbanspoon had a pretty panoramic interface for looking up places to eat and then sharing recommendations with friends via the Charms menu. The Jetpack Joyride game didn't wow; it looks pretty much like what you'll find on Windows Phone.
Of course, Microsoft bundles a lot of its own compelling apps with Windows 8 to get people started, including its gorgeous Bing News, Sports, Travel and other apps. There's also SkyDrive, Skype and Xbox for music, videos, and games. But Windows 8 needs the big-name developers to get shoppers on board, and the lack of their presence here was pretty shocking.
Steve Sinofsky, senior VP for Windows and Windows Live, says the Windows Store has more apps than any competing store had it's opening. That may be true. But when you're competing with 275,000 iPad apps, that doesn't seem like enough. Microsoft showed the tiles of some apps that we didn't know about before, such as Nook, Amazon Instant Video, ABC and New York Times, though not the apps themselves.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said "developers are working fast and furiously." However, if they've been working on apps for over a year, why didn't Microsoft let more of them show their wares for an OS whose success depends on them?
Earlier in the event Sinofsky said, "we know some people might count apps and look for their favorite apps. We see today as a grand opening?" I'd say it was less grand than I was hoping for.