We are thankful and humbled by the response and feedback from the developer community since we announced the new Microsoft Store on Windows last year and our Open App Store principles in February. Today, we would like to celebrate the developers that joined us on this journey and share new discoverability opportunities on Windows, the launch of Microsoft Store Ads to help developers reach the right customers at the right time, and new tools for Win32 and PWA developers.
Over the past year, Microsoft Store welcomed thousands of great apps like ACDSee Gemstone, Adobe Express, Audacity, Canva, Course Hero, Discord, Drawboard PDF, Epic Games, Firefox, Luminar Neo & Luminar AI, Mailchimp, Meitu XiuXiu, Microsoft Teams, OpenOffice, Paramount+, PuTTY, WinZip, and Zoom. In the first quarter of 2022 alone, we saw more than a 50% increase in new desktop apps and games coming to Microsoft Store compared to the same period last year.
We have also been partnering with Amazon to give Android developers an easy path to bring their Appstore apps to Windows 11. Amazon has already brought thousands of apps and games to Microsoft Store on Windows 11 and will continue to grow the catalog monthly. The Amazon Appstore preview is currently available in the U.S., and it will expand to five additional countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, by the end of this year. Learn more here.
New discoverability opportunities on Windows
Today, we are announcing further steps we are taking to help developers reach and retain new customers through the Microsoft Store:
- Windows Search. When an app is listed in Microsoft Store, Windows Insiders will soon be able to open Start, type the name of an app, view search results from Microsoft Store, and easily install it from there without distracting from their flow. Start is a highly used surface in Windows, and over half of customers search from Start regularly. When customers search from Start, they often search for apps, so Windows Search is a valuable new channel for acquisition of Store apps.
- Restore Apps. As we noted earlier this year, the PC market saw the biggest growth in a decade. To make it easier for customers to transition to their new PCs quickly and seamlessly, we will soon test a new feature in the Windows Insider channel that helps customers automatically restore their apps, previously installed from the Microsoft Store, to their new Windows device. This will also help developers retain their customers without having to remind customers to re-download their app.
- Pop-up store. The pop-up store and Microsoft Store badges allow developers to easily promote apps on any website, extending and simplifying the install experience. Find out more about how to create badges here.
Introducing Microsoft Store Ads
We are also excited to introduce Microsoft Store Ads, a new product designed to help developers grow their business by getting their apps or games in front of the right customers at the right time and to inspire Microsoft Store customers with great, engaging content. A developer of a music-making app, for example, will be able to create an ad campaign to get their app in front of an audience that likes music or likes to make music.
In the coming months, developers will be able to create ad campaigns in the Microsoft Store using Microsoft Advertising. Only developers with published content on the Store will be able to run ad campaigns, which ensures ads are contextual for customers.
We will soon kick off a pilot program to test and gather feedback; developers interested in participating can sign up on the waitlist. We look forward to sharing more details in the future.
Now open to all Win32 developers
Last year, we announced a waitlist program for Win32 apps in Microsoft Store and welcomed hundreds of developers. Today, we’re pleased to share that the program is now open to all Win32 developers (.NET, C++, Electron, Flutter, Qt, Rust, and more).
We are also introducing new features designed in response to feedback from the program:
- Automating Store Submissions. Using the new GitHub Action or Rest APIs, developers will be able to automate and manage app submissions directly from their CI/CD build pipeline. Microsoft PowerToys is a great example. You can learn more here.
- App visibility. Developers can now make their Win32 apps undiscoverable to test them with a small group before going live.
- App telemetry. Developers will soon be able to access new analytic dashboards to get more insights about their Win32 apps, understand their user acquisition funnel, app usage, health metrics, and install success analytics.
- App reviews. Developers can now engage with and respond to reviews on Win32 apps.
New tools for PWA developers
Over the past years, PWABuilder.com has been the best resource and tool to learn, get started, build, and package quality PWAs and distribute apps to Microsoft Store or other marketplaces.
In partnership with the developer community, we are releasing new capabilities:
- PWA Starter. This capability helps developers bootstrap their development of PWAs, aiding with performance, integration with the host Operating System, and guidelines for a great user experience.
- PWA Studio. This is a new Visual Studio Code extension to help build, package, and publish PWAs to Microsoft Store without leaving Visual Studio Code.
- Meta Quest support. PWAs in Microsoft Store are already supported on HoloLens devices, and Meta has recently announced support for PWAs on its VR devices. Microsoft and Meta partnered to make PWABuilder the ultimate tool for packaging PWAs for virtual and mixed reality, giving developers the ability to sideload packages for Meta Quest and HoloLens.
We want to thank the developer community for the feedback we have received in the past year and look forward to continuing our partnership to make Microsoft Store on Windows better for all developers and customers.
To learn more about these and other updates, check out the Build 2022 schedule.