Microsoft previewed the Windows Store, the new app marketplace that will be included in Windows 8, the next version of the company’s operating system, bringing to traditional PCs a distribution model popularized on phones.

While Microsoft has yet to talk about an official launch date for Windows 8, the app store is slated to be previewed with the Windows 8 beta, which will be in late February 2012, the company said — a key piece of news about the next operating system’s timing.

Microsoft: Windows 8 Beta Set To Debut Late February 1

The Windows 8 App Store comes with just free applications included; Leblond mentioned that app submissions would be “by invite only.” The event was wrapped up without any other details of the Windows 8 public beta, so we assume that, as Microsoft are gearing up for a release, that this public beta will be much more user friendly compared to the Preview released at BUILD.

“This is where Windows shines, and where the opportunity for you as a developer is completely unprecedented,” Windows Web Services VP Antoine Leblond said. “Every iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Android tablet and Mac sold in the last two years, I could combine all of these numbers together — it doesn’t match what Windows has sold.”

Microsoft will also extend invitations to other developers to create content for the Windows Store’s late-February opening.

The Windows 8 Developer Preview continues to be available from Microsoft’s website.

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