Big changes are coming to the Windows Store

Big changes are coming to the Windows Store

With the launch of Windows 10 just around the corner, Microsoft is now elaborating on its plans to enhance the Windows Store for both developers and customers.

As the company unifies its mobile and desktop stores and rolls out universal apps, improvements to organization, search and discovery are underway to propel customers to the app marketplace.

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According to a blog post by Bernardo Zamora, product manager for the Windows Apps and Store team:

The Store has been built from the ground up for Windows 10 providing for scalability, and the ability to support a single Store for apps, plus a wider variety of content types: apps, games, music, video, and TV (and more content types in the future).

Microsoft’s approach targets major areas like store lists, search, app lists, a new Web Store and ratings and reviews.

Store lists and search updates

Search algorithms are now optimized for apps, games, movies and music rather than the previous general Web search, and store lists will always show apps first. Customers may see apps they already have in lists and recommendations — for now. And, the ‘top grossing’ app list on Windows 8 will be temporarily unavailable.

The result? Developers may see some ranking changes for their apps in both Store lists and search results. Zamora recommends developers review and optimize app descriptions and keywords to achieve the lists and search results they seek.

App listings and Web Store

Microsoft also details a series of changes to product pages resulting from the integration of Windows and Windows Phone apps.

The product description pages have several changes resulting from the integration of Windows and Windows Phone apps. We also launched a new web Store that for the first time is able to show not only apps and games, but also music, movies and TV shows. As all of these capabilities are new, some of the previously existing functionality is not available in this initial launch.

For example, Windows Phone screenshot auto-rotation is gone. Previous Store URLs now redirect customers to the new Web Store. Logged out customers may see both Windows and Windows Phone apps (including duplicates).

URLs that pointed to a publisher’s complete app list in Windows Phone are gone, but customers can choose a publisher’s name on an app’s product page to view the list. App description pages exclude version, update date and relevant devices, for now. Finally, installing apps on a Windows phone now must be done on the device.

Ratings and reviews updates

Ratings and reviews in the Windows 8 and Windows Phone Stores will be visible to Windows 10 users, but those from Windows 10 users will not be visible to customers using an earlier OS.

A new ratings and reviews algorithm is designed to improve customer experience by placing helpful reviews at the top, and adding better monitoring of profanity and spam. Customers will be able to search reviews in both the Store app and the Web Store by star ratings, most helpful, newest, highest-rated and lowest-rated filters.

The unified Dev Center dashboard views linked Windows and Windows Phone apps as a unit with “multiple packages.” In Windows 10, customers will see combined reviews, ratings and star ratings for both apps in the new Store but customers with earlier OS versions will not see the combined rating. A device-specific filter is also in the works, Zamora said.

Finally, ratings and reviews from customers using preview versions of Windows 10 were removed from the Store on July 15. Instead, apps will only show Windows 10 ratings and reviews generated after that. Thus, for developers, average star rating could change.

Microsoft is encouraging developers to contact Developer Support if they need help. Microsoft says it is also adding new capabilities to Dev Center with the Windows 10 launch.

➤ Changes to Store listings and search algorithms [Microsoft]

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