Microsoft’s next version of Windows probably won’t be coming before mid-next year, but it’ll be getting a feature that nearly every operating system has access to, and that’s an App Store.

The news comes as software companies begin to ditch optical media as a means of installation and rely on Internet downloads, leading us to suspect that more and more programs will be distributed over the web than ever before.

This year, Apple’s update to its Mac OS X operating system was initially distributed only from its online application store, with a USB key installation “disk” released later.

With Microsoft announcing an app store for the next version of Windows, customers will likely have access to a huge selection of both commercial and independent applications at all manner of price points.