Publishing wait times decline, new unlock option

Hi everyone. I have a number of Marketplace improvements to fill you in on today.

Back in April I outlined a number of backend changes and cleanup efforts we were undertaking to improve the short-term performance of Marketplace and App Hub. Today I want to update you where we stand with this initiative, especially for the metrics I know you care about most: app certification and publishing turnaround times.

Over the last several weeks some of you have reported slowdowns or delays in the app approval and publishing process. You’ve also reported App Hub was taking longer to perform basic functions, like generating reports.

We’ve heard you, investigated, and have made some changes to improve things. Last week we took action to trim the size of the Marketplace feed, by removing app information that was no longer used and frankly just slowing things down. Since we trimmed, the average publishing time—the period between hitting the publish button and seeing your certified app become visible in Marketplace—has improved by 20 to 30 percent. It now takes roughly 3 to 4 business days to certify and publish an app.

We’re also seeing a similar decrease in the lag time between certification and availability of your app in the Marketplace—to less than 1 day, on average. (You might experience different wait times depending on the app you’re submitting.)

These are modest improvements, but as I’ve mentioned before, we’re building a faster and more scalable Marketplace service to better handle our rapid catalog growth. Until that work is finished later this summer, it’s possible that publishing and certification times could increase again. We’re doing everything we can to prevent that, but I also want to set realistic expectations.

Improved App Hub performance

In the past week, we’ve also made changes to improve the overall performance and stability of App Hub. This has made common actions like creating reports on your app’s performance faster and more reliable. I know some people, especially developers with large app portfolios, had experienced time-outs recently and that should no longer be the case.

Easy annual phone unlock

We recently addressed another pain point around unlocked phone renewals. Some of you, we know, received handsets at developer events that had been unlocked by someone else. This became a problem during account renewal because previously phones could be unlocked only by the App Hub account holder initially associated with it.

A new fix allows developers to register a phone to their account, even if it was originally unlocked by a different account. You can now simply run registration tool to unlock the phone.

Ad payouts for more markets

If you missed it, Microsoft Advertising also announced they’re expanding pubCenter to 17 new markets within the next few months (for a total of 36 markets), meaning app developers in more countries can get paid for advertising using Microsoft’s ad solution.  The new markets include: Austria, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Luxemburg, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Wrap up

There is still more work to do. These changes do not address all of your feedback and concerns. I wanted you to know that we continue to look for ways to resolve or reduce the impact of issues and provide a better Marketplace experience. I’ll check back periodically with news and information, good or bad. In the meantime, please keep giving us feedback.