Windows 8 Store gets preview rollout. How does it stack up?

Microsoft has introduced a preview version of its new Windows 8 Store, which will get a full launch later this year. 

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    Microsoft has launched a preview version of its new online store. Here, the interior of a Microsoft store in California.
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Microsoft this week has rolled out an official "Release Preview" of its forthcoming Windows 8 OS – and with it, a rejiggered version of the Windows Store. Beginning this week, users can download and install a range of apps, including software from the Financial Times newspaper and games such as Major League Soccer and Fruit Ninja. The apps come in two varieties: traditional desktop apps, and Metro apps, which can be used on traditional and mobile devices. 

This version is still very clearly a work in progress: Desktop apps, for instance, can't be downloaded directly from the store – you've got to follow a link to the publisher's page. 

"This Release Preview is about getting more apps into the catalog and into the hands of customers," Ted Dworkin of Microsoft wrote in blog post yesterday. "That’s the best way for developers to exercise the platform, for customers to engage with the Preview, and for us to continue to evolve and ready all aspects of the service for broad availability." 

Recommended: Ten ways Windows 8 outshines the iPad

Fair enough. So hey, how does the new Windows Store handle? Well, over at CNET, Lance Whitney isn't quite sold. 

"Despite the enhancements, the store still feels awkward to me," Whitney writes. "Part of that may be the overall Metro feel, which forces a horizontal layout over the traditional vertical layout. As with other Metro apps, that design works fine on a tablet but doesn't feel as smooth or as natural on a traditional PC. And all the white space just feels like wasted space. But it's the Metro design, so PC users are stuck with it for better or worse."

Meanwhile, Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica calls the preview a "good start," but says he has found bugs and glitches galore. 

"The 'select all' button on the 'Your apps' screen is a case in point," Brodkin writes. "I was trying to figure out what to do with this button when I had four Metro apps installed, all of which showed up on my apps screen. When none of them were selected, clicking 'select all' selected only the first one. After I selected all of them manually, clicking 'select all' actually deselected three of them, leaving the selection checkmark on the first one untouched."

Of course, as we noted above, this is just a preview version of the Windows Store and of Windows 8 itself – presumably, Microsoft will get around to patching up those bugs before the full release later this year.

Tried out the Windows preview? Drop us a line in the comments section. And for more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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