Are there really 800,000 Windows 7 apps?

Published by: ZDNet
Written by: Mary-Jo Foley

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may not have shared many new tidbits about Microsoft futures, but he did whip through a lot of stats during his Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote on January 6. One of those stats only caught my attention this morning, when I saw a couple of folks tweet it.

Ballmer said during his keynote last night that there are now “over 800,000 new unique Windows 7 applications” that are building on its new features and capabilities. Wow, I thought: Where are all these apps? Did Ballmer include in his count custom, line-of-business Windows apps that early Windows 7 adopters are fixing so they can work with Windows 7? Or was there some secret cache of touch-enabled, Jump-List-friendly programs I had somehow overlooked? Were independent software vendors waiting in the wings to roll out a bunch of new, secret Windows 7 wares that no one knew about?

Nope. Alas, it turns out Ballmer may have added a “7″ some embellishment to his claim that wasn’t supposed to be there. There are over 800,000 Windows 7-compatible apps out there, a Microsoft spokesperson clarified today, not 800,000 Windows-7-optimized apps.

Update: A spokesperson sent me this clarification after my post went live:

“There are 800,000 Windows 7 apps since beta and over 4,000,000 Windows apps. The number of customized Win7 business apps (i.e. a business creates an in house app for Win7) that are part of those totals are not publicly available as a breakout.”

Microsoft is regularly updating its list of applications that are and aren’t compatible with Windows 7 — a list that is frequently updated. But the vast majority of these are XP and/or Vista apps that don’t break or only somewhat break Windows 7. They aren’t a whole new breed of app that is designed to spur folks to go out and buy Windows 7.

Come to think of it, that’s one interesting difference between Windows 7 and older versions of Windows. While the Windows team really did go the extra mile to make sure that ISVs and hardware makers would try to make sure their apps/devices/systems worked with Windows 7 before the product launched, I didn’t hear Microsoft trying to recuit developers to create new kinds of apps that would show off Windows 7 and create demand for it. I guess there are a few touch apps (yay Betty Crocker!) that fall into this category. (Even that Kitchen Assistant app works with XP and Vista, as well, however.)

But it will be interesting, especially once .Net 4 (with its new workflow capabilities and more) materializes, whether any kind of new class of compelling “Windows 7 or later” apps emerges.

Meanwhile, are there any Windows-7-specific apps you’ve seen that might spur users to upgrade? If not, is the idea that local/client-based apps will drive operating system sales on its way out?