Meet the Windows Phone Dev Center

Today I’m happy to announce the debut of the Windows Phone Dev Center, the new online home for Windows Phone developers.

The site, an evolution of our retired App Hub developer portal, is designed to provide everything you need to build, publish, and manage apps for Windows Phones around the world. The result of months of careful planning and attention to your feedback, it has new features to help make Windows Phone app development faster and more profitable.

As the program manager for the Dev Center, I’d like to share our design goals, detail some of the improvements, and give you a quick tour of the new site, which you can start using now for your Windows Phone 7.5 (or earlier) apps.

Redesigned from the ground up

The first thing you’ll probably notice about the Windows Phone Dev Center is its cleaner look and streamlined set of menu options and quick links (Submit App, Get SDK, and View Samples)—all aimed at providing faster access to common tasks.

The Windows Phone Dev Center was designed to be easier on the eyes and easier to use. The homepage, shown here, sports a cleaner look than its predecessor and streamlined menus.

What might not be immediately apparent is that the portal now sits atop a more robust and scalable backend (which my colleague Todd Brix first discussed in a post last April). These infrastructure upgrades should translate into improved overall site performance and reliability. But today’s launch is just the first step; we’ll continue to fine tune and optimize the site and infrastructure in the weeks ahead.

More markets, more ways to get paid

The arrival of the Windows Phone Dev Center brings more markets and new opportunities to sell your apps. Developers can soon register in four times as many countries or regions, and get paid in three times as many as what’s possible today. As we’ve previously announced, this year we’re also nearly tripling the number of consumer storefronts around the world to sell your apps. Many of these new markets are available starting today. Others will arrive soon.

Many improvements and design changes to the portal were made with this geographic growth in mind.

For starters, we wanted to make it easier for you to get paid. So the Dev Center now supports PayPal, something many of you asked for. If PayPal service is available in your market, you can use it both to get paid and to pay for your developer account.

Since no two markets are ever alike, the Dev Center lets you enter a unique price in each country or region, a powerful new tool for fine-tuning your app marketing and profit-making strategies. I encourage you to experiment with it.

custompricing

Another new global-minded convenience: You can see ratings and reviews for each market in a single glance. (Previously, you needed to select individual markets for a summary.)

As we’ve already announced, one highly-requested feature coming in our next release is in-app purchasing. The Dev Center will support this important new revenue-generating mechanism in multiple ways, making it easy to do things like add and manage in-app merchandise and track sales.

Finally, beta testing is a key part of the development process, and some developers told us App Hub’s 100-tester limit didn’t provide them with enough feedback on in-progress apps. So the Windows Phone Dev Center now supports thousands of beta testers.

More flexible sign-up and submission

One of our major design goals for the Windows Phone Dev Center was to improve the account sign-up and submission processes, two areas some of you told us could be better. To that end, it’s now easier to edit and update your account—everything from basics such as your name and address to your tax profile.

The site is also more integrated with Microsoft Advertising’s pubCenter, so it’s possible to create a pubCenter account and ad units from the same place you manage your apps. (You’ll still need pub Center to handle some aspects of your ad account.)

We've made it easier to submit apps in Windows Phone Dev Center.

Another time-saving change is the introduction of smarter default menu choices. My favorite is the new option to submit your app to all markets except ones with additional content requirements. Previously we offered only a single, worldwide submission option. This new selection helps improve your chances of passing certification more quickly.

Better reports and analytics

The Windows Phone Dev Center introduces new analytic tools for tracking app downloads and performance. For example, you can now see downloads by purchase type—Free, Paid, Trial, and Beta. Paid downloads are now broken down by “without trial” and “after trial,” providing more useful insights into how customers are acquiring your apps. And the new My Money report shows monthly payouts—and will soon include exchange rate info.

Finally, the infrastructure changes I mentioned earlier will help reduce the latency of the app downloads report, an improvement that you’ll start to notice more in the weeks and months ahead as the changes begin to take effect.

Everything important in one place

Another key investment we made in this release was around content, and bringing together the most important educational resources in one place. You’ll notice, for example, that the new portal is integrated more deeply with MSDN, so you no longer need to leave it to browse Windows Phone-related forums and SDK info.

As before, you’ll also find great programming tips, code samples, design guidance, advice for selling apps, and much more.

The Windows Phone Dev Center is a comprehensive central repository for all Windows Phone app-making info, including forums and reference material that used to be located on MSDN.

Tell us what you think

The best way to really get a sense for what’s new is to sign into your account and spend some time looking around. As you do, I encourage you to check your account info and double check that it’s complete and accurate, especially since we now require tax and bank account info for submitting paid apps.

We’ve made numerous upgrades and improvements to the developer portal and its underlying architecture (this “What’s New” article provides a good summary). So many changes, in fact, that it’s possible not everything will work perfectly out of the gate. If they don’t, please tell us, and we’ll get it fixed as soon as we can.

On behalf of the entire team, thank you for your enthusiasm for the Windows Phone platform. We’re eager to hear your thoughts and questions about the new Dev Center.