Microsoft’s most radical new OS, Windows 8, is set to launch tomorrow, and lots of Chinese web companies are ready with apps that make use of the new user interface. China’s Autonavi (NASDAQ:AMAP) reckons it’s the first to make a Windows 8 maps app for use on either a tablet, laptop, or desktop.
The Autonavi app is called AMAP, perhaps borrowed from the company’s stock ticker, which is also the URL it goes by for its China-only maps website (see here). It’s rolling out to the Windows App Store (or whatever Microsoft calls it) right now, awaiting the first installers of the gold-master Windows 8 this weekend.
AMAP for Windows 8 brings all the usual online mapping tools from the company, such as 3D view and location sharing – plus some Windows 8 special features like split-screen support so that other apps can be used with it side by side. Autonavi says it now has apps for all major OSes: iPhone and iPad, Android (phones and tablets, WP, and now Windows 8 too. Though that leaves out Mac.
Autonavi is China’s top mobile maps app, ahead of local rival Baidu Maps by a fraction; Google Maps is sinking slowly in China, now down to third in terms of market share. While it’s harder to discern which maps most Chinese netizens use on their Windows machines, the new AMAP app might endear itself to some new users who are among the Windows 8 early adopters.
Microsoft noted earlier this week that a welcome wave of Chinese apps for Windows 8 make China the “number two market worldwide for all [Windows 8] apps available at launch.” Lots of them have been in beta for months, alongside Microsoft’s public beta version, such as apps for QQ, Sina Weibo, PPTV, and Ctrip.
Autonavi provides the China-specific maps for the much-mocked Apple Maps app, while TomTom covers the rest of the globe.