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May 18, 2016

Third-party and legacy distribution options (Dev Center Tip #3)

There are two additional publishing options that have not been addressed in the Windows Dev Center Tips blog series yet. Over the years, alternative distribution mechanisms have come along in the form of third-party systems; they continue to be supported. Legacy Windows Phone 8.x distribution for beta testers also continues to be supported, though it is recommended that you use newer alternatives.

Third-party and alternative distribution systems such as HockeyApp

If you already have a package distribution system, such as HockeyApp (now a part of Microsoft) or Appaloosa, you can still use it to distribute your app’s packages to users. HockeyApp supports both Windows and non-Microsoft mobile phone operating systems, so it is a good option for multi-platform development and testing. It also includes the ability to automate builds and push packages to devices.

Beta testing for Windows Phone 8.x

Dev Center continues to offer the option to target an app to a specific list of Windows Phone 8.x users, defined by the email addresses associated with their Microsoft account. In most cases, it is not recommended to use this feature as it does not support all of the customers moving to Windows 10. For scenarios where most of your customers are using Windows Phone 8.x, use hidden apps instead, either with deep links or promo codes.

Looking forward to future improvements

As shared at Build, the capabilities to manage limited distribution will continue to grow and evolve. The teams are already working on improvements and plan to release them later this year. Some of these improvements include the following:

  • Create a new app that is only visible to and acquirable by a limited set of users.
  • Gradually roll out a package update by percentage of users eligible for the new version.
  • Enable one-click customer opt-in to betas.

View the Build video for more information about these upcoming features.

Other posts in the Dev Center Tips series: