What’s new in the Windows Phone Store—a developer perspective

What’s new in the Windows Phone Store—a developer perspective

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For several months we’ve been rolling out a series of infrastructure upgrades to the Windows Phone Store and Dev Center in preparation for Windows Phone 8. That work is now wrapping up, so I wanted to give you an update, tell you what these changes mean for you, and point you to some helpful resources.

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How new Store features help you

As my colleague Mazhar explains today, the Windows Phone 8 Store has been significantly improved to make it easier for consumers to find and discover apps. But the new design also benefits developers.

First, the Store now clearly calls out—on the app details page and spotlight area (shown below)—when an app includes either a Live Tile or trial option, both of which drive downloads and boost satisfaction. Apps with Live Tiles are typically rated 1.5 stars higher than apps lacking them. We also know that customers buy more apps and games when they can try them first.

Free_Live tile_FeaturedPaid_Trial

Second, the new algorithms used to generate app lists more directly and accurately reward app quality and user preference. Previously the list algorithms were based primarily on downloads over time. Now we’re able to factor in measures including an app’s customer rating, how frequently it’s pinned or unpinned from Start, and performance (does it crash often?) to determine its overall ranking. The upshot: if you’ve invested in quality, performance, and customer satisfaction you will now more directly benefit through better ranking and discoverability.

Third, we know many of you target smaller and well-defined user segments based on specific interests, geographic location, or season. In the past, however, it’s been challenging for these users to find such apps.

To help, in Windows Phone 8 we created Collections, a new feature (shown below) catering to customers interested in specific kinds of apps. Each Store will have 30 collections of 6 to 20 apps curated by our experts and tailored to each market. Another way we’re getting more of your apps in front of customers is through Picks for You, a new personalized recommendation engine that suggests apps based on what apps customers own and what their friends on social networks use.

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We’re also making it easier for users to buy your apps though a new Wallet feature and expanded payment options in Windows Phone 8, including PayPal in most countries and Bing Rewards in the US. We’ll continue to work closely with carriers to bring direct carrier billing to more customers over time as well.

Windows Phone 7.5 benefits

On Windows Phone 7.5 handsets the Windows Phone Store will still be labeled as “Marketplace” and offer the same menu and browsing options as before. Under the hood, however, there are several improvements. Bing now powers the search results, which are more forgiving of user typos and misspellings, and now also lists related apps in results.

Windows Phone 7.5 users can also expect to see differences in lists like Top, Free and New, as the new algorithms now take into account downloads, customer ratings and actual usage patterns for a more accurate picture of what’s trending. (Developers should expect some variability in rankings over the coming weeks as the new algorithms are fine tuned.)

As part of the infrastructure upgrade, Windows Phone 7.5 devices were automatically sent a new configuration file that pointed them to the new Store service. But some customers—about two to four percent—have phones that for various reasons can’t automatically retrieve the new file. In the next few weeks, these customers will see a specially-created app in Marketplace called Refresh Marketplace. Once they run it, they’ll enjoy the same improved app search and smarter app lists as new Windows Phone 8 users.

More resources

Finally, the Dev Center roll-out is complete, bringing an all-new portal and developer registration in 191 markets. Check out my recent post for a tour and checklist for getting started. We’re eager for you to download and install the new Windows Phone 8 SDK and begin experimenting with new capabilities like in-app purchase. (For more on in-app purchasing and how to take advantage of it in your apps, see Bernardo Zamora’s recent post.)

Another way to take advantage of the new SDK is by signing up for a local Dev Camp, which offers in-person, hands-on guidance from experts.

And remember that if you’re new to Windows Phone or just getting started, you still have a few hours left to pay $8 (US) for a new Individual Account, a savings of $91. This offer expires at midnight Pacific time tonight. See Dev Center for additional details.

Over the coming weeks you can expect more posts with additional technical insights and guidance from the following Windows Phone team members:

  • JC Cimetiere :third-party tools and APIs
  • Larry Lieberman: how to make the most of the platform
  • Cliff Simpkins: SDK insights
  • Bernardo Zamora: monetization opportunities
  • Kevin Gallo’s developer platform team: in-depth feature level technical details

As always, you can reach us here or at #wpdev. We do recommend any bugs or issues you discover that you report them directly via the Community Forums on the Dev Center for faster service.

6 Comments
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  • I hate to tell you, but I have recently discovered a way that Devs can create fake reviews. I'm not sure if anyone is using it, but there is a way for a developer to use certain (freely available) tools to drop a bunch of reviews into an app's reviews (either good or bad).

    I'm not sure about the crashing thing. I think the problem there is that what if it's the MS Ad Control that is crashing? Essentially you are making the bar that much higher.. While it's laudable, I have to believe that some will cheat the system.

  • toybook
    0 Posts

    Today marks the arrival of Windows Phone 8 in the United States with AT&T's launch of the HTC Windows Phone 8X and Nokia's Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. The Lumia 920 is available in red, black, yellow,. http://www.bankinfoonline.com/

  • thanks for a great blog post,, my version of this ..

    For several months we’ve been rolling out a series of infrastructure change

    it effect all the cloud service in the world ,,

    and the orders are comming in ,, BUT DO PEOPLE KNOW THAT THEY HAVE BUY A Microsoft surface tablet or a windows phone 8 , that ? i live up to u

    all reports a people are bless course your system does not work

    www.theverge.com/.../surface-shipment

    well you will final have the success you deserve,,

    Orders will be comming

    People are happy, course the delivery service will soon ring on there dore with a present

    People get supressed, and the first think thay say , i do not order this,

    and you will comit grant theft on these people bank accounts, ALOT OF PEOPLE THIS YEAR

    hope you can handle the success of your products

    loopback in this ,, 2010 there where a buzz about your products all over the internet

    and yours where top products , when ever you had the right IP NUMBER it works

    every bardy who hasent the right IP NUMBER did not see your products

    no the game has change ,, you see a system with in a system

    you will get success , buy commiting grant theft on people bank acounts , tricking them into buying a microsoft surface tablet or a windows phone 8

    Best regards

    Michael Hansen

  • Hi Todd,

    Great work on the improvements to the Store! Highlighting the use of live tiles on the Store page and, in particular, the new Collections are very welcome additions. I'm happy to say that my app has been fortunate enough to be included in the Collections in some regions!

    I do have a few questions and some feedback, which I'd be grateful if you could address:

    1. In addition to the 'with Live Tiles' tag it would be great to see something indicating that the same app is available for Windows 8, perhaps a 'also on Windows 8' tag. Currently there is no integration between the Windows and Windows Phone Stores, and I know that as a user if there was an app I liked on one platform I would want to know if it was available on the other. As a developer, my Windows 8 app is already becoming very successful (currently in the top 25 free apps, at least in the UK Store--I cannot check the other Stores), and I'm hoping this will help the Windows Phone version. There is certainly an opportunity here for cross-promotion within the Stores themselves.

    2. Since the collections are curated per region, it would be great to see a 'From local developers' category to promote the best apps from developers in each region. I think many users would like to support developers from their own countries. A problem with this idea is developers who use the global publisher program to submit their apps, but hopefully you think it's worth consideration. Another thought is a 'From student developers' category, perhaps with a link to info on DreamSpark.

    3. Will the apps in each Collection be rotated in much the same way the Featured section? Or at least reviewed periodically so that better apps can be added or replace those already included?

    4. On this last point, is it possible for developers to make requests to be included in the Collections? My app has been included in some regions but, for example in the US and UK, a competing app has been selected instead (in the Students collection), which I believe is far inferior to mine (both scientific calculator apps). Mine has live tiles, a background task, uses the Modern UI, has more functions and modes, is more highly rated, is also on Windows 8, etc. (I could go on!). I believe the only reason the competing app has been included is because it has far greater downloads in these regions since it was available when the Windows Phone Store launched. I would love the opportunity to present my argument for why my app should be included, and I'm sure that other developers would too.

    Many thanks,

    Richard Walters.

  • @anatoyl: You see to be under the impression that everyone that buys / download apps also leaves a review for them. I'm pretty sure that's not the case so the first is moot.

    I can't speak regarding 2 as it remains to be seen if WP8 will cause such issues. For 3 however, I'm sure the weightings of each check are suitable enough to compensate for that.

  • anatolyl
    19 Posts

    The idea to generate app rankings based on how often the app crashes is a big mistake. Obviously the MS team doesn't have any idea or experience how does the application market works.

    1) If it doesn't perform well it will get lower customer ratings, so the app which happen to have a bug will suffer twice.

    2) Most of the crashes we experienced so far are due to Microsoft bugs (most common are pubcenter related bugs) of which developers don't have any control.

    3) Apps which have many pages and which are addictive so that users spend hours to play will have more crashes that the app wich has 1 page and whcih users spend 1 minute a day to use.

    The idea to generate app rankings based on user reviews ratings might be counter productive. In any way users do check the overall customer rating of the app once the get on the app detail page. But if you base a directory rating on that it could motivate some bad tactics i.e. trading reviews and customer ratings, buying good reviews, posting batches of negative reviews on the competitors apps, etc. Like it happened on other application markets.