Where have your apps gone?


I was surprised to find that the tally of apps I have developed over the previous 5 years or so is close to 300 – an average of an app a week over the period.  I have been asked why I spent so much of my time developing these Apps and although I have touched on this elsewhere in my blog I thought it worth revisiting and explaining why I have taken the decision to remove these apps from the store.

After a lengthy period as a contract developer I made the decision for personal reasons, to close down my business.  This gave me the opportunity to learn about App development and at the same time to consolide my existing web and desktop skills.

Having now made the decision to return to a more traditional role I want to clear the decks and focus on the next stage of my carreer. Correspondingly it no longer makes sense to support the many Windows and Windows phone Apps which I am now in the process of retiring from the store.

Of course that doesn’t mean that if you have one of these apps it will suddently stop working and there is certainly no reason why you shouldn’t continue to enjoy any apps you have for years to come!

As ever you are free to email me about any aspect of any apps that you own!





New revenue opportunities for Windows developers?

So I was in two minds as to what the make the title for this blog post but having received the email below from microsoft this morning my immediate take away wasn’t about the ‘new opportunities’ but about the decreased cut of app proceeds imposed on developers.  here is the email:

Adding new revenue opportunities for you is a key priority for Windows Store. To attract more store customers, we recently launched new Windows Store and Xbox gift cards. Gift cards are now available at thousands of new retail locations and online stores in 41 markets. Windows and Xbox gift cards work interchangeably and can be used on both Windows and Xbox stores. Sales associates will promote gift cards to customers who want to give gifts, buy apps without a credit card, or fund a child’s account without the worry of overspending.

With the recent expansion and because gift cards have higher costs due to packaging costs and revenue sharing with channel partners, a Commerce Expansion Adjustment will be added to app and in-app product purchases made with gift cards. The Commerce Expansion Adjustment is an additional percentage on top of the normal Store Fee (percentage of Net Receipts) that is deducted in calculating the App Proceeds payable for apps or in-app product transactions using gift cards.
The Commerce Expansion Adjustment for gift cards will take effect in
specified markets in March 2016 at a rate of 2.24%. Details about how the Commerce Expansion Adjustment is calculated and deducted from App Proceeds can be found in the App Developer Agreement.
Windows Dev Center allows you to choose which markets you publish your apps and how you price them in each market. In doing so, you may want to consider if the Commerce Expansion Adjustment applies in a specific market and factor that into your market pricing strategy going forward.
For further details about the Commerce Expansion Adjustment and the list of markets where it applies see your
App Developer Agreement and Windows Dev Center.
Thank you,
The Windows Dev Center Team

I am sad to see that there is a need to cut developer proceeds in this way.  I have found it difficult to justify the development of apps for Windows and Windows Mobile (in spite of the fact that I have found the process enjoyable and the tooling excellent) and have felt forced into looking at reducing (if not completely eliminating) the time I am able to devote to developing apps for the Microsoft store.

Sad times.




It is with some sadness that I have decided to withdraw all my apps from the Windows Store.  I felt this was necessary in order  to clear the decks and prepare for future projects.

NB My understanding is that this process will take some time before it is reflected in the non availability of some 300 or so of my apps in the Windows and Mobile Store.

Live Tile Sport – Editors Choice Award

Very please to find that one of my apps achieved an editors choice award this month:


Thank you!


Best Windows 8 Apps

Live Tile Sport

Get live news from your chosen sport in your Windows 8 UI!

Note this App covers a selection of popular British sports (so no Hockey, Baseball or American Football!) Features:

  • Multiple Sports Categories with associated Live Tiles
  • Choice of Live tile Layout and Content
  • Ability to remove Advertising / Purchase a full licence.
  • Control over text ayout and font sizes


Live Tile Sport

Live Tile Sport


Category: Sports

Size: 0.3 MB

Age rating: 12+

Publisher: Web Surfaces

Supported processors: x86, x64, ARM

Website: Live Tile Sport website

Editor rating: 9.5 Stars (9.5 / 10)



ref: http://bestwindows8apps.net/live-tile-sport/

Windows 8 Apps and Personalised Advertising


Any developer deciding to Add the Microsoft Advertising SDK as a part of their App stack will now automatically offer users the option to personalise their adds (the setting is off by default.)


An interesting addition to 8.1 and another sign that the onward march of ‘targeted advertising’ continues.


NB Image Still from ‘Vantage Point’, which will be available soon in the App store.

What is wrong with this picture?


My dialog with Microsoft about ‘missing downloads’ has been an agonising one in which I have simply failed to get through to anyone who believes that there is anything wrong with the above picture. (To paraphrase and simplify: ‘our system tells us that you didn’t have any downloads during that time period’)

If you work at Microsoft and are willing to help please get in touch, you will find that I am a reasonable and committed, albeit frustrated, independent developer.

Made in the UK


imageVery pleased to see that ‘Learn Piano’ is one of the featured apps in the Windows Store ‘Made In The UK’ spotlight section in the Windows Store.

Watch, Rewind, Pause and Play this stunning collection of videos aimed at helping you to learn the piano.
Beginner? Use ‘slow’ mode to play along slowly!

★★★★★ "What a wonderful App!"

★★★★★ "A very enjoyable way to learn"

★★★★★ "I felt good about my playing in no time, thank you!"

NB Learn Piano has consistently been in the top ten free Apps in the Lifestyle section of the Windows Store since it’s launch.

You can download ‘Learn Piano’ for free <here>

App Sales on the Windows Platform

Something strange has been going on with my Windows Phone and App store downloads.

Windows Store App Sales

So not a very inspiring story but this graph shows sales revenue (not ad revenue) for Apps between April and June this year.  The graph shows a regular income from App sales of between £5 and £10 per day up until around 6th May when suddenly not only are there no sales but there are more refunds than is the norm.

image(Click on the graph to enlarge)

And so I put in a request to Microsoft to investigate this strange phenomena.  Some weeks passed and after a series of exchanges I got a message back saying everything is normal (!?)

Windows Phone App Sales

A similar story with my Windows Phone sales (I have an outstanding request to investigate this from that team also).


To my mind the chances of this happening through the normal course of events are so small as to be discountable?

And so the purpose of this post   (and I feel a little bad that I have had to resort to this) is to ‘shame’ Microsoft into actually giving me an explanation of what is wrong instead of a series (of which the below is the latest) of emails attempting to persuade me that everything is OK.


NB I have replied to the email above with a link to this blog post.

If anyone else has experienced similar phenomena please let me know.

Windows Store Download Stats.

So after a very flat and uninspiring period after the launch of Windows 8 looking at my own stats today it is clear that things have started to change over the last Month or so – with a steep increase in downloads (which now total in excess of 37,000)


Hopefully this increase will continue a pace over the coming year.

Interestingly a similar graph for my Windows Phone Apps shows a much steadier increase over the same period:



Windows 8 Hardware

At the weekend I had the fortune to visit the ‘gadget show live’ event in Birmingham and was particularly impressed with the variety and quality of the Windows 8 devices that were on display (I particularly liked this Sony device that was equally usable in a tablet and laptop/desktop configuration and powerful enough for almost any scenario)


It was nice to be able to get hands on with all these devices in one place.  (It did make me think that our PC retailers are not doing as effective a job as they might).

Programmatically Searching the Windows Store

Although to my knowledge there isn’t a publically available API for the Windows store there is a little known method to invoke the store  from any machine running Windows 8.

The basis for this method is the intrinsic support for  the stores own HTTP protocols on Windows 8.  At the moment this seems to work on al the major browsers (ie, Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

Example 1: Search for a Publisher

Type the following into your browsers address bar to find all the aps I currently have published in the store:

ms-windows-store:Search?Query=Web Surfaces

Example 2: Search for a Subject

Lets say that I am a sailor and want to learn the rudiments of how to tie various sailing related knots (humour me):


(Who knew?)

Example 3: Bringing up a specific App

Lets say I am a developer and want to bring up the store with my own apps page.  I have already checked the Browser’s user agent to ensure the user is running on Windows 8 (useragent string contains ‘Windows NT 6.2’)

I also know my apps own unique GUID which I can get by logging in to http://appdev.microsoft.com and checking the GUID used in a standard http link:



Example 4 Checking the store for updates:


Here is a list of the parameters presently supported by this protocol:


NB There is also some rudimentary documentation for this protocol from Microsoft here

Using protocols in your own Apps

You can use http protocols in your own apps. For example my own App ‘Presenters Assistant’ uses it to invoke itself after someone shares some text with it.


To try this, download the App, then type the following into your browsers address bar:

scroll://This is an example of some text to scroll

(Watch out for my next blog post about how to do this)