Monetization and business models
The Windows Store provides a number of ways to make money with your apps. You can choose from a variety of different business models, such as free ad-supported apps, or apps sold at a specific price (perhaps with a free trial offered). As you plan your apps, think about which business model makes the most sense for you, and design your app to support your monetization plans. You can adjust your pricing or business model later if you find you want to make changes.
The Windows Store enables several business models that can help you make money with your apps.
- Collect full price before download
- Free trial versions of paid apps
- In-app purchases
- In-app advertising
- Third-party transactions
The simplest business model in the Windows Store is to require that your customers pay the full price for your app before they can download it. See the Price tiers section below for more info on setting prices.
Requiring a purchase in order for a customer to download your app may not be the most effective option unless potential customers already trust your app, or you charge a low price. Consider one of the options listed below to help monetize your app.
Even if you're going to sell your Windows Store app, consider letting customers try it for free. They'll be able to upgrade from a trial version to the full version by purchasing it, either from within the app or from the Windows Store.
One way to enable a trial is to limit the functionality available in your trial version so that only certain features are available until the customer purchases the app. Determine which features should be limited before you begin coding, then make sure that your app only allows them to work when a full license has been purchased.
You can also choose to offer a free trial version (with either limited or full functionality) for a set amount of time. Unless the customer buys the app, it will stop working once the time period expires. You can select the time period for the trial when submitting your app to the Windows Store.
Be sure to make it clear to the customer (in the app's description and from within the app) how your trial version works and how long they can use the free trial.
For more about trial versions, see:
You can sell content, other apps, or new app functionality (such as unlocking the next level of a game) from right within the app. You can place the options to make in-app purchases wherever it's convenient for your customers. Windows 8.1 adds support for consumable in-app purchases—items that can be purchased, used up, and then purchased again if desired.
You can set a time limit after which a feature enabled through in-app purchase will expire, or you can let them remain active for as long as the customer has a valid license for their app. How long the feature works is something that you configure when you describe the in-app offer in your Windows Store Dashboard.
Note In-app purchases cannot be offered from a trial version of an app.
Make sure you design your app in such a way that the features you want to sell are separate from the core experience. The app should maintain basic functionality, even if the customer does not make an extra purchase. For example, a note-taking app that asks your customer to pay extra for the ability to save notes won't be popular. Charging for features that are available at no cost in similar apps can also limit sales of your app. Make sure that your features are clearly worth the additional charge relative to the competition.
Before you start writing code, think through your feature model so that you can keep the features that you intend to enable as in-app purchases as compartmentalized as possible. You want to make it easy to incorporate these features into your licensing model, while preventing your app from invoking them through other code paths.
For more about in-app purchases, see:
- Enable in-app purchases from your app
- Enable in-app purchase of consumables
- The in-app purchase experience for a customer
- Using receipts to verify purchases
Including ads in your app is another way to make money. Make sure to follow the App certification requirements for the Windows Store when designing where you place ads. See Advertising guidelines for more recommendations on how to display ads in your app.
The Microsoft Advertising SDK can help you build support for ads into your app. You can use any ad platform, as long as the ads comply with the App certification requirements for the Windows Store. In particular, the ads provided by the ad service must comply with the same content policies that apply to apps in general.
Consider giving customers the option to remove ads. You might offer an in-app purchase that removes ads, or include ads in the trial version of your app but remove them for those who buy the full version.
There are many additional ways for apps to make money aside from the options provided by the Windows Store. You can use a third-party transaction provider, or benefit from ties to other lines of business, as long as the transactions comply with the App Developer Agreement. For example, if you have a transaction platform that integrates into a CRM system, you can use that in your app to keep track of your subscribers.
Note The Windows Store does not charge any fee for transactions that take place via a third-party transaction provider or your own platform.
The price tier sets the sales price in all the countries where you choose to distribute your app. You can offer your app for free, or you can pick a price that Windows Store users must pay to acquire your app. Price tiers start at 1.49 USD, with increments starting at .50 USD. The increments increase as the price gets higher.
Each price tier has a corresponding value in each of the more than 60 currencies offered by the Store. We use these values to help you sell your apps at a comparable price point worldwide. However, due to changes in foreign exchange rates, the exact sales amount may vary slightly from one currency to another. The same price tiers apply to in-app purchases.
Keep in mind that the price tier you select may include sales or value-added tax that your customers must pay. For example, if you sell an app at 1.19 EUR in Europe, a 15% VAT tax is included. Your app proceeds are based on the pretax amount of 1.03 EUR (1.19 - 0.16).
When you sell apps or in-app purchases through the Windows Store, we assess a Windows Store fee. For apps that generate less than $25,000 in sales, this fee is 30%. After the app generates its first $25,000 in sales, the fee on the subsequent revenue drops to 20%. These fees are officially defined in the App Developer Agreement, and only apply to sales made through the Windows Store, not to transactions that take place via a third party system. See Getting paid for more details about fees and payment.