Apple has always had the corner on apps but Microsoft hopes to upset Apple's apps cart with the introduction of Windows 8. The company says it expects 100,000 apps to be available for Windows 8 PCs and tablets within 90 days of the operating system's launch on Oct. 26.
"It's critical for us to get a critical mass of apps," said Keith Lorizio, VP of U.S. sales and marketing for Microsoft Advertising, in an interview with online tech channel Beet.TV. "We're expecting to aggressively pursue 100,000-plus apps over the first three months."
Maybe so, but the Microsoft Store -- the only officially sanctioned source of apps -- has only about 3,000 apps now, so there's quite a bit of app-writing to be done in the next few months.
Nevertheless, some pretty major players have already jumped into the Windows 8 apps game, among them The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, and Amazon.
Apple has always taken a certain amount of criticism for exercising such tight control over the apps it agrees to sell, while Microsoft has taken a more free-wheeling approach, not maintaining an official repository of add-ons to its software and in effect leaving consumers on their own.
While this laissez-faire approach encourages creativity, it can also be a headache. Much of the free -- and even paid -- add-on software now available for Windows machines comes at a heavy price.
At the very least, free software often tries to substitute a new home page, change your default browser or load up your search bar with all kinds of garish links to sites you're not likely to visit.
At the worst, free add-ons often come encumbered with spyware, malware, viruses and every other outrage known to humanity.
Most consumers, those who are not technical wizards, will probably prefer being able to find apps that have been tested for cleanliness and purity, even if they have to pay a few bucks.