Windows Store for Release Preview


Welcome to the Release Preview Windows Store. In this post, we’ll describe a few of the improvements we’ve made to the user experience. We’ll also touch on a few updates that we’ve made to our app certification policy, in an effort to ensure guidelines and expectations remain clear. And, of course, we want to encourage you to dive in and explore the hundreds of preview apps currently in the catalog—including the first desktop app listings. These apps are just the beginning—we’ll continue to add apps during the Release Preview timeframe. Ted Dworkin, Partner Director of Program Management, authored this post.

–Antoine


Since we first introduced the Windows Store, we’ve highlighted many of the different investments we’ve made toward providing a fantastic catalog of apps for every Windows customer and a great, global developer value proposition. We’ve showcased everything from a user experience that supports app promotion and discoverability to language support to app licensing and analytics. After all, a thriving Store ecosystem depends on great customer and developer experiences.

The Release Preview Store contains a number of improvements for both customers and developers. The Store also continues to grow—we now have more apps from more locales, being delivered to more locale-specific catalogs. We added 33 new developer submission locales just since the Consumer Preview, and we now support 38 markets for app submission with support for more markets on the way.

The Store now offers a unique app catalog for customers in 26 markets, increasing the Consumer Preview number by 21. This number, too, will continue to grow as we continue to expand the service globally. In the meantime we continue to include a “rest-of-world” catalog for those locales we have yet to support.

    US Store Home Page 

China Store Home Page

 

Brazil Store Home Page

Improvements in navigation

Feedback from the Consumer Preview helped identify a set of navigation challenges that we needed to address. When exploring categories, customers had difficulty discovering how to return to the main home page of the Store. We provided a Home link, but folks just didn’t see it.

A Windows Store screenshot showing the hard-to-find Home page link

In addition, customers struggled to find the list of apps they had acquired, for the purposes of installing those apps to additional PCs. This obstructed the value of allowing customers to download apps onto multiple PCs, and syncing the settings between them. We address both problems—how do I get home, and where’s my app list—by taking advantage of the Metro style affordance for navigation: a nav bar. Based on early feedback from customers, the nav bar has helped to solve these two critical navigation issues.

Windows Store with Nav Bar

Improving app management

Customers also asked for more control over their app download experience. To address this, we added the Metro style solution for commands, the app bar, to the download manager. This gave us a natural location to move the Pause control and a place for the new Cancel control, which was added for the Release Preview.

Windows Store with App Bar

Support for Share contract

Previously, we’ve described how contracts are great mechanisms for app-to-app interaction and how the entire Windows 8 operating system gets more powerful and interesting as more apps use more contracts. With the Release Preview version of the Store, we keep this momentum going by supporting the Share contract, allowing you to share info about apps with friends and family right from any app listing page.

Windows Store now supports the Share contract

These are just a few of the more noticeable improvements to the Store experience that we’ve made based on Consumer Preview feedback. There are thousands of smaller improvements in this preview release—from performance to animations, home page layouts and visual polish.

Desktop apps

One important addition: desktop app listings will show up in the Store for the first time tomorrow, June 1st. Customers will be able to search for them or find them within categories, just as they do listings for Metro style apps.

Desktop app in the Windows Store2

These are just listings—the desktop apps themselves are distributed by the developer or by a reseller, as they have been all along. The listing pages provide a link, supplied by the developer, to the distribution location. Servicing of desktop apps remains between the developer and the customer and is not handled via the Store.

Soon, we’ll post a blog entry further explaining the certification requirements and listing process for desktop apps.

Policy additions and revisions

We first published our app certification policies at our Store Preview Event, where we also reiterated our commitment to transparency in our partnership with developers.

For the Release Preview, we’ve revised a number of policies to increase developer efficiency, and introduced several new policies. As we’ve updated the policies, we’ve kept a revision history to aid consideration of the content. I’ll go over some of the bigger changes now (and note that whenever we introduce significant changes, we’ll blog about them here to further highlight and explain them).

We saw a lot of questions about the relationship between Metro style apps and related websites, so we updated the wording for policy 2.4 to clarify this. The goal is to ensure rich, satisfying experiences within the app and limit context switching to accomplish tasks. Policy 2.4 now reads:

2.4 The primary experiences your app provides must take place within the app

We added clarification to policies 3.5 and 3.6 about input support and respecting system affordances. These policies are designed to ensure predictability and robustness in the experience on every Windows 8 enabled device. We’ve also added considerable design guidance since the Consumer Preview to further explain our principles and provide specific instructions to assist implementation. Policies 3.5 and 3.6 now read:

3.5 Your app must fully support touch input, and fully support keyboard and mouse input

Your app must provide visual feedback when users touch interactive elements.

Your app must not use an interaction gesture in a way that is different from how Windows uses the gesture. The Windows 8 touch language is described in Touch interaction design.

3.6 Your app must use the mechanisms provided by the system for those features that have them

Your app must support a snapped layout. In landscape orientation, your app’s functions must be fully accessible when the app’s display size is 1024 x 768. Your app must remain functional when the customer snaps and unsnaps the app.

Your app must neither programmatically close nor offer UI affordances to close it. Windows 8 Process Lifetime Management closes Metro style apps automatically.

Your app must suspend and resume to a reasonable state.

If your app implements an app bar, that bar must show up with a bottom-up swipe.

If your app implements a navigation bar, that bar must show up with a top-down swipe.

We also expanded on polices that relate to transaction support to help ensure that customers are aware of the transaction provider and can be more confident in making purchases. These pertain only to apps that use commerce providers other than the Store. We updated policy 4.7:

4.7 If you use a transaction provider other than the Store’s, you must identify the provider at the time of the transaction or when it collects any payment info from the customer

If your app uses the Windows.ApplicationModel.Store namespace for in-app purchases, this messaging is provided for you. If your app uses any other method for in-app purchases or to collect payments, it must display a message to the customer stating that you are responsible for the transaction and not the Windows Store.

For example, in-app purchases made from apps produced by Contoso that don’t use the Windows Store for the transaction would display a message such as, “This item is available from Contoso” at the time of the transaction.

And we added policy 4.8:

4.8 If your app doesn’t use the Windows.ApplicationModel.Store namespace for in-app purchases, your app must prompt the user for authentication to allow a transaction to be accomplished.

The app can offer the user the ability to save this authentication, but the user must have the ability to either require an authentication on every transaction or to turn off in-app transactions.

Finally, we made a number of smaller revisions to improve readability and comprehension. Our certification policies comprise a living document and we will continue to evolve them with the best interest of developers and customers in mind.

Apps

Really, though, this Release Preview is about getting more apps into the catalog and into the hands of customers. That’s the best way for developers to exercise the platform, for customers to engage with the Preview, and for us to continue to evolve and ready all aspects of the service for broad availability.

We’re excited to have lots of new apps to offer in a range of languages—all still free, and ready for immediate download. Here are a few to check out—starting with the always entertaining Fruit Ninja.

      

Fruit Ninja screenshot

Windows 8 is a great gaming platform, but it’s a “no compromises” release and Metro-style apps are for productivity, too. We’re also excited to have the Box app for the Release Preview.

Box

While lots of apps have universal appeal, we want to ensure we have great support for apps that target certain markets or interests. Major League Soccer has delivered a fantastic Release Preview app—rich, immersive and intuitive.  
Major League Soccer screenshot

Our full-screen, chrome-less, immersive app model is ideal for viewing content. We’re pleased to have the Financial Times app in available in this Release Preview to give you access to business news and help you stay current on the global economy.

Financial Times screenshot

And as we expand our Store language support for both developer markets and consumer catalog offerings, we see more and more developers taking advantage of the market opportunities and language support in the platform.

Larouse screenshot

youdou_screenshot3

These are just a few of the many new apps we have in the catalog. We look forward to your feedback. In the meantime, we’re going to take the slightest of breaks, maybe consider taking advantage of Cocktail Flow, and then get back to working hard toward the next public release.

Cocktail Flow screenshot

To learn more about some of the other changes we’ve made, check out the Windows app developer blog.  And, in the meantime, enjoy the apps!

— Ted

Note: We replaced the first two images in this post on 6/1/2012, as the previous images did not reflect the most recent UI.

Comments (31)

  1. xfan says:

    When will the App store be open to all developers? RTM?

  2. As a user interface designer who is considering designing apps for Windows 8 I am disappointed with the lack of effort developers have put into their apps when they had months to prepare. — however I think it is your fault in that you are enforcing devs to port their content over into generic templates which is NOT acceptable when Windows 8 launches in a couple of months.

    This is Windows Phone all over again where developers were and still are designing generic apps using the same default template. iPad apps have come along way in terms of interaction, usability, branding etc. You simply cannot allow WinRT apps to stay in this bland generic state because what you are allowing to happen is apps that are merely consumption environments like a dull RSS reader instead of a highly branded, highly interactive, highly engaging web app that adds extended functionality that you may not get on a website.

    I realise that you are pushing for devs to get their apps into the store as quick as possible and that they will develop over time but judging by your track record for not following through with controlling the whole experience of your products I feel that this area is going to be a major cause for concern when there are so many iPad and even iPhone apps that are so far ahead in unique design and function that I really worry not just for my sake but for the consumers who are looking for an alternative.

  3. Walter says:

    I think it's a good time to mention that fruit ninja is not installing properly!

    Even after the install, it still says the app needs repair from the windows store

  4. Andres says:

    I must say that FlipToast app has got many options but It's too slow, seems to have many errors and sometimes it needs repair from the windows store. Guys, fix that or create a Facebook app please+

  5. Andrea says:

    Ok, let's see what's wrong:

    – Box: non-standard system icons. Users won't be able to determine at first glance what an icon represents.

    – Financial Times: seriously?? It totally looks like a web page! Login/register, refresh? They should be in the appbar. And where is Segoe UI Light?

    – Larousse: non-metro search icon (it shouldn't ever be there in the first place)

    Quality, not quantity. Quantity will eventually come later.

  6. Tun says:

    Glad to know window 8 preview released today !

  7. byd says:

    thanks team. but we expect you guys to:

    1. have a Developer Store, where developers sell each other sollutions, codes, design tamplates, developer apps etc too this will reduce your own internal costs to help developers to design apps

    2. Again MSDN needs a Human Computer interaction blog to help developer design apps, many developer are coders not graphic designers, in real companies they have graphic designer in one hand and coders in another hand and they work to achieve the same app goal, so please have Graphic design Blog, like this http://sixrevisions.com/ or any other like it, this very important since metro apps are about immersing the user into the app, so its vital.

  8. Brad says:

    What would be nice is if we could actually get a developer registration code for the store..

  9. Hal Motley says:

    While I like the concept of the Metro UI for a few things like a Notes app or calculator!

    I primary like desktop Apps and as a potential app developer on Windows 8 I am very annoyed that you are not allowing to host desktop apps like the Metro apps. All you do is host a link!

    This is terrible! I am almost tempted to just buy an Apple developer account and host desktop apps there!!!! >:-(

    You are missing the point Microsoft, not everyone wants everything Metro-ised!

  10. @Hal Motley

    I think we aren't missing the point.  That is sort of the point 🙂

    Most desktop ISVs already have mechanisms to sell, license, distribute their software (including terms and conditions) and for apps in the Windows Store we want to have uniform policies for customers in how they acquire software.  So by just hosting the reference to the existing mechanisms, ISVs don't have to compromise their current mechanisms in an effort to be part of the Windows Store.  We talked about this when we demonstrated this feature at //build/ in September and in the Store release in December.

  11. Alex Parsons says:

    As a college student without a summer job (and plenty of free time), I'm starting to get pretty excited about developing for the Windows 8 app store over the summer, as I have made a few apps on Windows Phone, but every time I try to learn WinRT, I continue to run into documentation pages that are completely blank.  This is a huge contrast to Silverlight/XNA Development on Windows Phone where there are plenty of samples and walkthroughs available.  

    How long will it be until we have more than just three basic tutorials?  I mean how am I supposed to learn how to take advantage of toast notifications and live tiles when you have documentation pages that are like this?  msdn.microsoft.com/…/hh868259.aspx .  

    Don't get me wrong, I think Windows 8 is an awesome idea, but you need to provide developers with higher quality documentation that Microsoft has always been known for in the past.

  12. bzsys says:

    I like the look and content of the Windows store, but navigating it still feels clumsy as others have pointed out, see for example news.cnet.com/…/windows-store-youre-still-clumsy-despite-windows-8-boost

    While this is sometimes framed as being about "Metro style apps feel clumsy on the desktop", it could feel less clumsy (on all form factors) if they actually implemented some of Microsoft's own guidelines for Metro style apps: msdn.microsoft.com/…/hh868270 (while this is for entertainment apps, they have similar structure to the Store).

    e.g.

    * Problem: While the long flat spatial layout can be nice for initially exploring the store, it's laborious to navigate to a specific category

    * Solution: Implement a header drop down as recommended above: "Using the section header enables users to jump laterally between section titles quickly. For example, consider a user who's browsing the tiles for movies in the comedy category and wants to navigate to the drama category. They can easily use the drop-down for the section header to do that."

    (In addition, even the "exploring" use case is currently kind of broken – say you want to scroll through the front page entering each category in turn. Once you're done exploring a category and return to the front page, you're plopped back at the left side of it so have to scroll all the way back to the category you explored. The navigation stack needs to remember your scroll position  so you can resume right where you left off.)

    * Problem: Exploring the store feels impersonal because apps and categories you don't care about can be promoted over ones you do

    * Solution: Implement category rearranging in zoomed-out view as also recommended by Microsoft's own guidelines (but AFAICT not actually implemented in any of their apps): "When using Semantic Zoom, you can enable the user to rearrange category placement on the home page by selecting the group and moving it around. Your users can now personalize the app landing page, which gives them another reason to use your app." I think people would appreciate the spatial layout much more if it were one they could personalize.

  13. bzsys says:

    Oh, and also the mouse zoom button appears for me on top of the scrollbar instead of in the corner proper – this is horrible, as it's both inherently worse (Fitts's law noncompliance) and inconsistent with the Start screen (people should just be able to perform these gestures by muscle memory instead of having to look for the button in a different place each time). Hope this is a bug/oversight/WIP and not a design decision.

  14. Brad says:

    @Hal, I have a calculator App..  I can't get an app store developer registration code!  

  15. Brad says:

    The one thing I didn't like about the store was navigating in and out of categories..  If scroll to the right 6 or 7 categories and enter the category, when I "back" out of it the list is reset and I have to scroll back to where I was.

    The use case is if I'm iterating through all the categories to see "what's new", clicking back resets everything to the beginning.  I already looked at categories 1 through 7, I want to be back at category 7 so I can quickly get to 8.

  16. @bzsys  

    I totally agree the position of the zoom button should be the corner, hopefully they fix this.

    I also wanted add a few suggestions about improving navigation: for mouse and keyboard users searches should be done within an app by simply starting to type, similarly to how it's done on the start screen. This seems more consistent and intuitive. Considering how often search is used going to a corner and then a charm just seems like to many unnecessary steps. Also I'm kind of surprised that push scrolling isn't working in the core apps like the marketplace yet, is this going to be added?

    I'm really enjoying Windows 8 so far. Good Work!

  17. @Alex Parsons

    The link you provided to the MSDN page on working with tiles, badges, and toast notifications goes to the landing page for that section. I see a ton of very details information in that section, and the samples provided there are quite extensive. Perhaps you missed the list of sub-sections on the left-hand side of the page? (i.e. "Creating a tile," "Updating badges," etc?)

  18. i have to agree again about not being able to submit apps to the store.  i have been using windows 8 since september last year and have managed to develop a couple of apps but im still unable to get them into the store which is preventing me from going any further with them because i need feedback, suggestions and testing done on various devices so i can fix problems and make improvements and the only way to do that is to get them into the store so people can try them.

    if windows 8 is released around october then that is another reason why its important that you open up store submissions as soon as possible because that is only 4 short months away and the only way windows 8 will be a success especially on tablets for the holidays is if the store has 100s if not 1000s of apps available to give consumers a choice and give them something to use on their fancy new tables.  people will expect full completed apps and ones without bugs or incompatibilities and it also takes time for apps to go through the verification process so unless the store is opened soon there wont be anything in the store when windows 8 is offiially released and choice will be minimal.  the higher the number of apps available at launch will greatly influence the sale of windows 8 devices.

    dont leave it until the last minute please open the store

  19. Alex Parsons says:

    @Brandon Paddock

    Well that's embarrassing, you are correct about how I failed to navigate to the topics on the left.  It would probably be easier to see if those links were listed in the middle of my page though.

    Regardless, I still feel like the quality of the WinRT framework, isn't of the same quality as Silverlight and XNA was for Windows Phone.  I know I'm not the only one who thinks this, Paul Thurott expressed similar concerns, and the creator of Weave, pretty much the best news reader app on Windows phone has expressed similar concerns.  Link to his twitter is here: twitter.com if you would like to send some help to him.

    I'm going to give WinRT a try, that's for sure, and I really hope the documentation improves.  Unfortunately I have a feeling that Windows Phone 8 will be focused on WinRT as well, so I am trying to abandon my Silverlight projects to port them to WinRT.

    Another thing about how Windows 8 differs from Windows Phone is the developer communication.  Maybe I just haven't been following WinRT enough, but there's no figure head for WinRT evangelism.  Brandon Watson did a phenomenal job at recruiting developers for Windows Phone, but unfortunately, I don't see anyone making equivalent advances that Watson made for Windows Phone.  Once again, maybe it's because I followed channel 9 two years ago, I could be wrong.

  20. littlehogarth says:

    Whoa, just realised the search in Charms is app specific when in App, so you can use this to search the Store. I feel a bit slow now for my query about needing to search the Store.

  21. bzsys says:

    @stzeer6: I definitely agree it would be great to have "just start typing to search" be adopted in apps as well. Not only is it convenient (or if you like "fast and fluid") but after doing it in Start I find I instinctively try it elsewhere and am disappointed when it doesn't work – feels like something is broken.

  22. @Sinofsky:  I can understand that and I'm sure all those companies who have invested a lot of work and money into setting up such infrastructure appreciate that they can continue to use it.

    However, I don't really understand who this stopped you from ALSO providing a new application model in which we could create "metrofied" deskop applications that ran sandboxed AND were deliverably through the store (which btw, would also give us developers the opportunity to write metrofied desktop applications that run on BOTH x86 and ARM…)

    I mean, serious, every time I plug my (awesome ;-)) phone into my pc and see Zune popping up…  I'm thinking "why can't I develop a sandboxed desktop app that looks like this?"

    Zune is a metrofied desktop app, there's no denying that.  The borders, the buttons, the content, the horizontal scrolling, the animations,…  It's literally a metro app running inside a desktop window.

    Honestly, there isn't a single good reason I can come up with for why you did not provide a desktop accessible WinRT api that would have allowed me to write such ARM/x86 capable desktop apps using C# and XAML.

    Here's to hoping that such a platform is being developed as we speak…

    FYI: I also fear that because of the lack of such a platform and because of the incredible progress Intel has been making.. windows on ARM is going to be dead on arrival.

  23. Zinko Lin says:

    Why does window store not available in Myanmar.

  24. Woof says:

    Look at that Contoso File Wizard screenshot, in the Contoso File Wizard window it has Android ICS 4.0 virtual buttons bar on the bottom!!

  25. B says:

    @Woof, oh you didn't get the memo?  Android apps run in Windows 8..  one OS to rule them all!

    @Zinko Lin,  they mispelled Myanmar.. check under 'Burma'.

  26. Сергей says:

    Не могу войти в магазин,выдает вышло время подключения и проблемы с сервером,хотя проблем нет.Спасибо.

  27. Ryan Spooner says:

    My biggest gripe with the store so far is the sheer number of foreign language apps there are cluttering up my view, even though the option "help me find apps in my own language" is turned on. Is it really that hard to hide non-English apps?

  28. NoName says:

    windows app store is only a joke, the real app store is under mac os x.

    Microsoft can not do something on they're own, they can only copy things and that was it.

    What a shame!!!

  29. Alvaro Regalado says:

    I cant change the country in my developer account… WHY?

  30. @ahdr  your comment (the second one right after the article) is spot on. While the project templates are a good starting point, it encourages developers to be lazy design wise and come up with boring default apps like on wp7

  31. DevPlus says:

    I need developer Account from Algeria  Thanks