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January 24, 2014

More control for app developers in the Windows Store

We’re always thinking about how we can improve the Windows Store onboarding and publishing process to make things easier for you as an app developer. This week we rolled out a few changes to help you manage the availability of your app in the Store, and we also simplified the app certification requirements. Let’s take a look at these changes and what they mean for you.

Setting your app’s release date and time

First off, we’ve added more control to choosing the release date for your app. Previously, when you submitted an app, it went live in the Store as soon as certification and the process of publishing the app was completed, or you could select a future date to publish your app. Now you have more control over when publishing begins. Rather than only choosing the date, you can now set the hour and time zone. Additionally, you can change the release date while your app is in certification, rather than sending it through the certification process again. This is handy if your plans change after you’ve already submitted the app, or if you find you need a little more time to prepare for its launch. As long as the app hasn’t yet entered the Signing and Publishing phase, you can choose a new date (and time) for the app’s release.

Screen shot of the Release date options, where you can choose to release after certification is complete or specify a timeframe

Managing your app’s availability

On occasion, developers may want to remove an app from the Store for a period of time, such as when fixing a bug or addressing a concern. We’ve now given you the ability to remove your app’s listing from the Windows Store at any time just by clicking Remove this app’s listing in the Manage availability section of the App details page in your Dashboard. You can later click Restore this app’s listing if you decide to make the app available again. It’s important to remember that removing an app’s listing means that your app is no longer available for new customers to download. Your app’s existing customers can continue to use it, although they’ll no longer be able to make any in-app purchases.

We’ve also heard from a number of developers who have added Windows 8.1 packages to an app they originally built for Windows 8, indicating they would like to stop supporting the app on Windows 8. To support this scenario, we added an option to remove the Windows 8 listing only. This means that new customers can only acquire the app if they’re running Windows 8.1. (Windows 8 customers who already have the app can continue to use it, but won’t be able to make in-app purchases). Just as with removing a listing altogether, you can later choose to restore the Windows 8 listing if you want.

Screen shot showing where you manage your app's availability

One thing to keep in mind is that even if you remove an app’s listing (either for Windows 8 only or completely) you can still continue to provide updates to existing customers, even if you choose not to list the app in the Store again. For more info, see Submitting an app update.

Simplified certification requirements

As a direct result of your feedback, the app certification requirements for the Windows Store have evolved over time to better meet the needs of both app developers and consumers. We just released version 5.0 of the requirements, with a number of changes that we think will make the certification process easier while still maintaining appropriate levels of app quality. In some cases, we’ve removed requirements in areas better handled as best practices than strict requirements. For example, you now have more flexibility in where your app can display ads. We’ve also combined some requirements that cover different aspects of the same area (such as technical requirements). For specifics on what’s changed, see the summary of changes in the certification requirements Revision history.

We hope all these changes will make it even easier for you to create and publish your apps in the Windows Store. Please continue to share your feedback; we’re listening.

— Keith Senzel, Principal Group Program Manager, Windows Store Dashboard