Monetization and business models
There are a number of ways for you 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). You can also promote your app in the Windows Store by putting it on sale for a limited time.
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.
Note While the information in this topic focuses on the Windows Store, the same general business models are supported by the Windows Phone Store. For more information about monetization options in the Windows Phone Store, see Customize and sell.
The Windows Store enables several business models to support making 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 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.
You can promote your app in the Windows Store by putting it on sale to temporarily lower the price (or even make it free) for a specified period of time.
Note If you have published the same app to the Windows Phone Store using the same reserved app name, a customer who purchases the app in one Store can also download it from the other Store without having to pay for it again. This applies even if the app's price isn't the same in both Stores. For more info, see Sharing your app’s identity in the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store.
Even if you're going to sell your 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 right within the app or by going to its listing in 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:
Whether your app is free or not, 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—in addition to durable in-app purchases (which cannot be used up and repurchased).
For a durable in-app purchase, you can set a time limit after which the feature will expire, or you can let it remain active for as long as the customer has a valid license for their app. You configure the product lifetime 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.
Note If you have published the same app to the Windows Phone Store using the same reserved app name, a customer who purchases a specific durable in-app purchase will be able to access it from within the app on any Windows device. This does not apply to consumable in-app purchases. For more info, see Sharing your app’s identity in the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store.
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. There are also many partner companies which you can work with to bring advertising revenue to 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.
You can offer your app for free, or you can pick a price that Windows Store users must pay to acquire your app. If you sell your app, you must choose a price tier, which sets the sales price in all the countries where you choose to distribute your app.
Note These price tiers also apply to any in-app purchases that you offer from within your app using the Windows Store commerce system.
Price tiers start at .99 USD, with additional increments (1.29 USD, 1.49 USD, 1.99 USD, and so on). 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.
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. In most cases, this fee is 30%. 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.