Coming soon: A new website and online app store

Coming soon: A new website and online app store

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Next time you visit the official Windows Phone website, you might find it has a new look and a few new improvements, including ones to our online store for apps and games.

We’re rolling out these changes beginning with Australia and New Zealand, and in the weeks ahead gradually working our way around the world. If the new site hasn’t arrived where you live yet, here’s an early peek at the improvements (some which you’ll need to be signed in to the new site with your phone to see.)

Goodbye Marketplace, hello Store

As I mentioned, the first thing you’ll discover is the official site has a cleaner design and a couple new menu options. Clicking on News, for example, provides a handy summary of what notable journalists, reviewers, and bloggers are writing about Windows Phone or the latest handsets and apps. Make sure to bookmark it and check back regularly for the latest scoop.

The new News section of the official Windows Phone website.

You’ll also notice the Marketplace menu option has changed to Apps & Games. One reason for this change was to ensure new customers know where to find downloads for their phone.

But the change also hints at something bigger: Starting today we’re retiring the name Marketplace and renaming it the Windows Phone Store. By doing so, we’re following the lead of Windows 8 and its Windows Store for apps and games. The two even share the same Store icon.

The icons for the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store for apps and games.

Improved app search

In addition to its new name, the Window Phone Store also sports a few improvements designed to make finding great apps and games for your phone even easier.

First, the Search box is better, since it now relies on the Bing search engine to supply results. (If you follow our blogs closely, you know we’ve been rolling out a much improved backend for both the Windows Phone Store and Windows Phone Dev Center. The welcome addition of Bing’s search engine is part of this infrastructure upgrade.)

The new Search box makes it easier to:

  • Find apps even if you make spelling mistakes or typos—for example, “Facebok” instead of “Facebook”.
  • Find similar apps more easily. For example, type “guitar” and you’ll see relevant apps even if they don’t have “guitar” in the title.
  • Finds apps in same genre. Type “health” to see apps related to dieting, exercise, and more.

Another cool thing about relying on Bing search algorithm is that it’s designed to learn from all the searches people do and will actually get smarter over time, returning more relevant search results.

Smarter app lists

One of the challenges of owning a smartphone is finding worthwhile apps and games when there are more than 100,000 apps to choose from. If you’re anything like me, you probably rely heavily on Marketplace’s sorting and browsing options—New, Free, and Top.

The online Windows Phone Store not only clarifies these labels, but adds some new browsing options to make finding apps even easier. (These changes only apply to the web Store for now, but will be mirrored on new phones later this year.)

In the Store, for example, you’ll now see Top Free and Top Paid. The renamed and improved New+Rising list is not only refreshed more frequently, but takes into consideration how quickly an app is being downloaded. A new addition to the lineup—Best Rated—ranks apps based on customer ratings and actual usage patterns for a more nuanced picture of what’s great.

We've renamed and improved browsing categories to make them more clear and useful.

The Spotlight area of the Windows Phone Store, meanwhile, showcases a mosaic of recently-published apps chosen by our in-house experts.

The new Spotlight section of the Windows Phone Store.

A friendlier store

In recent months a number of you have told us that while you appreciate variety, you’d prefer apps with overtly sexual content to be a little less prominent on our virtual shelves.

We’re also committed to stocking a range of apps and ensuring Store appeals to as many phone buyers as possible. To strike a balance, we’ve decided to make racier apps a little less visible. We’ll continue to carry apps in this genre that meet our certification criteria and display them in search results. They’ll just be less front and center to casual browsers, a group that can include younger family members.

By popular request, we’re also adding a mechanism for reporting apps that concern you. We work hard to ensure quality and peace of mind, testing all apps thoroughly before accepting them. But we’re not perfect and want you to let us know if you encounter an app or game that you find offensive, has technical problems, or doesn’t work as advertised. Just tell us using the new “Report concern” link located on every app’s download page.

Just the beginning

There a handful of other small changes you might notice when the new online Store arrives in your area. When you review an app, for instance, the name shown next to your write up is now whatever first name you entered for your Microsoft Account.

We hope you like the improvements to the website and online Store. Once you’re able to look around and try them, I hope you’ll share your thoughts so we can continue to make improvements.

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  • Hawk
    61 Posts

    I read a post from CNET about a new Samsung, the Ativ S for Windows Phone 8.  4.8" AMOLED screen, 1.5Ghx dual-core processor, 16 or 32GB, micro SD slot, NFC, etc.  Maybe I can finally get rid of this Samsung Focus!!!!!!  Now if these new phones could only be released!

  • The new website looks good

    But , Apps and Games section should be separated so that  the apps and games won't get cluttered on Spotlight section and it would be possible to have two different spotlights

  • rgvweb
    59 Posts

    Can you suggest me the names of cool looking apps for my I phone

  • This ain't good. Just had a reply from Windows Phone support on Twitter and the whole story is you really have to forget about Windows Phone now if your country or region isn't listed because you can never purchase or download any app, since they've now introduced phone number verification..... just Great Microsoft, thanks for your new site changes and redesign...but please suuggest a solution to this problem for some of us, it wasn't so with the old site :'(

  • I think this is becoming a problem for some of us (those of us with non-listed countries). The problem is you really need to verify your phone number when reinstalling an app from the site and what will you do when your country is not listed?? You can never go to the next step if you don't provide a phone number and how can I provide a phone number when my country (Ghana) is not listed? thus making me unable to install my apps...this is not good and would love a solution to this problem. Microsoft really needs to reconsider this step, it's a blockade for non-listed country users with Windows Phones to get our apps....what do I do now???

  • Check out this poll!! You can vote for the 920 here, and then check out the numbers. Its amazing!!..

  • About the new WP8 devices that have been revealed recently::

    I still dont see a solution for A/V out! No HDMI out on either the Ative S, or the L920/820. At least no solution has been revealed yet. Hopefully HTC will have a device with HDMI out because we need this feature under WP's belt. I know all the specs haven't been revealed for these devices, but I'm getting worried that A/V out isn't coming this time around.

    I personally want, and need, A/V out on my next device. I won't feel like I have the full package if this feature is not available.

  • The website looks fantastic. Please change the orientation of the photos though. On a pc screen the way they are turned makes no sense. I need to look at them sideways,

  • I definitely think it would be much smarter to have a "pay once" concept.  WP and Win8 are already WAY behind the competition in apps.  If I knew that I could buy an app once, say, for the Windows Phone and also install the tablet/PC version along with it, I'd be more attracted to the platform as an average customer.

  • I believe it was a big mistake to separate phone apps from Tablet/PC Apps. Not only those of us who have purchased Windows Phone 7 apps will need to purchase the same apps and games again on Windows 8, but also Windows 8 could have started with 100,000+ apps instead of just a handful. The iPad runs iPhone apps, and Mac Os X runs many iPhone and iPad apps. Why couldn't Microsoft unify the three platforms?

  • Entegy
    42 Posts

    @awesmdiver The Windows 8 Store has some filters akin to what you are describing so maybe they will be in Windows Phone as well.

  • Well, I've submitted much "feedback" on the page, hopefully someone actually reads these.  Couple other issues to add to those already listed:

    1. Allow filtering by location/region.  Does me no good to have to manually filter out apps from a region that I am not in.  For example, an app that lists local places for India, does me no good if I'm in another country.

    2. On that same item, filter by language.   Again, I do not want to have to deal with apps/games in a language that I do not know.

    Guys, right now there is 100K apps, hopefully this will grow but with growth comes the problem of actually finding what you want.  Sure Search is great if you know what you are looking for, but if you just want to browse - give us the ability to filter outside of just categories.

  • mrmckeb
    26 Posts

    When can we get vectors of that logo? We'll need to update web and print assets to reflect the name change.

  • alanh
    2 Posts

    the "store" logo here is technically wrong.  for the windows logo to stay in those dimensions the bag has to be flat and not angled - it's bugged me since this new logo launched.

  • A better way for notifying users of changes in a app is needed. Change log or whats new section for each app page and on our phones marketplace. Currently apps are updated with no information why there was a update. If there was a update, we have to press "details" then scroll all the way down in the app description on our phones.

  • csmikle
    14 Posts

    1. So basically they're still not highlighting Trial apps?

    Let me explain something: People go into a Store and look for Free. If all you show off is free vs paid, you ignore Microsoft's genius implementation of free trials that can make an app essentially free forever though it's listed as a paid app. Consumers have no effective way of discovering apps with good trials!

    2. Second thing I wish they'd fix: If they have a separate games category along with the music and apps categories, why do they allow games in the apps category? If I look for Top apps, all I see is a list of XBox Live games, making app discovery difficult. Don't you think I could have just gone to Games if that's what I wanted?

    I can't emphasize how much I hate seeing nothing but games in a list of apps. Kills discovery.

    3. Why not keep the pure New section and just add a Rising? Why can't I get a view of releases in chronological order anymore?

  • I hope the App download/detail pages have more details.  Currently, the details are very basic.  Things like Date last updated (it currently only shows when the app was initially released), changelogs,  separate star and comment reviews, download stats, etc.

    The new site is looking great though based on those screencaps!

  • decoy
    4 Posts

    All these visual changes looks good. However, I hope this team will do something about the 'review system' in the WP store [Marketplace]. I constantly see reviews that are blank (no comment) with just star ratings, which is very annoying. Can't MS people figure out how to allow users to rate apps without displaying just 'star ratings'?

    Secondly, the underlying technology (text edit, Word) used by developers to add info [description] to their app is very comical. The text formatting -- font, line spacing, bullets, etc. -- is never right. Guys take a page from Apple's app store app description and formatting and now look at what you are doing.

    Lastly, I've noticed all the images of apps in the Windows 8 store are of low (blurred) quality. A lot of devs I've contacted says it is not their doing, it's the store [MS].

    Why is everything from MS so half-assed and always seem unpolished? Talented people work on these projects and yet I do not understand why these consumer products are being release without complete vetting by  specialize team.

    Get your house together.I hope thing well be fixed by the final release of W8, WP8 and the Surface.

  • That is already possible, at least for the phone. I do it all the time when browsing wpcentral.

  • avivas
    2 Posts

    @eladbs You can already do that with the current Marketplace

  • What the Store app detail page needs is a QR code so I can easily scan the QR code with Bing Vision and install the app on the phone instantly, and view the app detail page too on my phone.

  • eladbs
    1 Posts

    Will it be possible to initiate an install from a web browser to a PC/Phone???

  • Looks good, I just hope you guys have realized that "apps" and "games" are really two different things and they really need to be seperate.  It is so irrating to search "Apps" and the "top" or "new" apps are always games.