Feature Spotlight: Search

Windows 8 contains powerful new technologies that Windows Store apps can take advantage of. These technologies not only provide a great user experience, but also drive engagement with your apps. Over the next few months we will feature several of these technologies, and show why they can make a difference for your business. To begin, we’re taking a look at the Search feature, which lets you engage with users when they most need your services. – Ben Thompson, Partner Marketing Manager

Search is one of the most powerful and useful features in Windows 8. Users can easily search by swiping from the right (or moving the mouse to the right corner) and clicking or tapping the Search charm. Alternately, from the Start screen, users can simply start typing to initiate a search. Not only can they search for apps or files, but they can also search directly within specific apps.

How Search Works

This is a powerful new way to access information: it starts with the query term, and then flows to the appropriate app, driving customer engagement and attachment. Let’s look at a few examples of how different types of app can effectively help customers search.

Reference apps

On most platforms, if a user wants to look up a word they need to first decide where to look, open the specific website, app, or search engine, and then input their search term. It’s a multi-step process that many users don’t want to bother with.

On Windows 8, users can immediately search for the word in question and then choose the search destination, such as the Dictionary.com app, from the list below the search box to display the search results.

Dictionary.com app Search


The Search feature dramatically improves user engagement for Dictionary.com by surfacing their app in the place where it’s most relevant.

Shopping apps

Surfacing your brand where it’s most relevant to consumers is particularly important for shopping apps. Suppose someone wants to buy a new touch laptop. Searching on Bing will provide info from any number of retailers. Shopping sites like Amazon work hard to ensure that they are at the top of the search results, but there’s no guarantee.

However, a loyal Amazon customer that has installed the Amazon app can search for a touch laptop using the Search charm and immediately see Amazon as a search destination. They don’t have to bother with a search engine; instead, they just click on Amazon and get the results they need.

Amazon app Search

Integrating with search is a great way to increase engagement and loyalty; it allows your brand to appear in front of your users when they most need your product and leads them directly to your app.

Travel apps

When planning a trip, people need to find a booking site, figure out specific airport codes, and figure out what days have the best prices, just to get to a specific destination. It can be a lot of work.

Skyscanner is an app that considers the way users think. Users can simply search for a destination like “Chicago”, click Skyscanner, and get a great overview of what day is best to fly from the city they live in.

Skyscanner app Search

Smart integration with Search and location awareness earns Skyscanner new customers and provides a superior experience.

Productivity apps

Deep integration into a user’s life is critical for productivity apps. By integrating with search, productivity apps become more accessible and grow more natural and invaluable to use.

Evernote uses search to let users quickly look up old notes or articles they’ve saved. In this case, while watching football, someone who suddenly remembers an article they clipped in Evernote can find it in a snap.

Evernote app Search

Entertainment apps

Engagement is critical for entertainment and news apps. People hear about hot new shows or breaking news items all the time, but if it’s a lot of work to access them, they’re likely to forget and move on.

Since Netflix has implemented the Search contract, you can start watching the minute you hear about a movie or show.

Netflix app Search

By making it so easy to find and watch programs, Netflix increases interaction with their service.

Building a Windows Store app with a great Search contract implementation will help you connect and engage with your customers, meeting their needs in a way that makes sense and feels familiar. Search is just one example of the unique Windows 8 technologies that make apps better.

To learn more about adding Search to your app, download the Search contract sample and be sure to check out the guidance and examples on our Dev Center.

Comments (3)
  1. jps says:

    Search is completely buried under a rock. Nobody in my family has discovered it without being shown and it's quickly out-of-sight = out-of-mind. A true calamity.

  2. Nate says:

    @jps, on the contrary, Windows 8's first outstanding feature is Charms menu, which contains unified search charm, share charm, device charm and settings.. it is the first thing people mention after Windows 8.

    In iOS you need to tell people to swipe from left-to-right (or right-to-left in some locales) to bring out search. In Android, you have multiple desktops and you need to remember which app is opened where.. so yeah every platform requires a learning curve and statistically proven over the past two decades, Windows OS is best when it comes to ease-of-access!

  3. On feature spotlight, the topic that merits the most coverage is desktop experience with Server 2012 for running App Certification Kit. Development maybe done on Server OS as has been promoted by MS's very own Dreamspark program, rather than client OS. Even when the kit works as previously seen at blogs.msdn.com/…/5-tips-to-getting-your-apps-certified-quickly.aspx it recommends further probing by using Application Verifier that does not relate well with Store Apps. And as for requirement 1.2 Not providing enough details for Microsoft to test your app, its the testers who ignore it! I once did a domain-specific app, and if the tester is unable to articulate the short-coming its clear laziness! Its as if there's faked balance among failed and passed then the tester won't be suspect of disregard toward duty. Microsoft has always been industry leader for PC software, but the grass-root Store Certification folks are relatively newbies lacking professional maturity.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content