Since the reveal of Windows 11 back in the Fall of 2021, Microsoft has reminded developers that "big" app store changes we be put into place to make the marketplace a viable time-sink for their efforts.
Today, during Build 2022, Microsoft followed up its promotion of the Windows 11 Microsoft Store with some actual details regarding the company's revitalized efforts to help developers make money and produce new experiences for Windows users going forward.
According to the Microsoft Store general manger Giorgio Sardo, developers can expect to explore new discoverability opportunities in Windows, app restoration, Pop-up Store experiences, Microsoft Store Ads, as well as new tools for PWA and Win32 developers such as improved app telemetry, review and visibility tools.
Starting with the new discoverability opportunities, developers will now have their apps indexed in the Windows Search tool, where they will not only be able to see suggested apps but utilize one-click installs from the window.
Depending on where Microsoft settles on putting its Search tool, this could be a boon for developers who have argued that Microsoft has dropped the ball on search indexes for the Store and in turn, hampered their abilities to be discovered organically or even intuitively.
Next up is the ability to restore app purchases and installs from Windows device to another. There is a way to accomplish a similar result currently baked into the Microsoft Store but the company's latest proposal streamlines the process, thankfully.
We will soon test a new feature in the Windows Insider channel that helps customers automatically restore their apps, previously installed from the Microsoft Store, onto their new Windows device. This will also help developers retain their customers without having to remind customers to re-download their app.
Moving on to Pop-Up Store experiences that will wrangle the whole of the internet and leverage it as potential Microsoft Store flea market where developers can promote any app tied to the Store on any website while also simplifying the install experience, through a badge mechanism.
Akin to the Apple, Amazon or Play Store buttons that currently exist, it seems like Microsoft is ready to reengage with allowing developers to promote their apps on its Store platform in an easier and more public way.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day for Microsoft Store developers is the introduction of Microsoft Store Ads.
Seems as if Microsoft has finally figured out a way to deliver targeted ads for developers of the Microsoft Store so that ads for event-related activities surface key apps at the right time.
Soon, developers will be able to create ad campaigns in the Microsoft Store that leverages the Microsoft Advertising platform to curate audiences, context and bidding to help promote their apps. What's surprising is that Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads) has been around during Windows 8, 8.1, 10 and a year into 11, but Microsoft hadn't thought to combine its efforts until now.
Microsoft will be kicking off a pilot program with a waitlist that dev's can sign up for starting today.
Aside from being able to promote with finer precision in the Microsoft Store, developers of Win32 (including .NET, C++, Electron, Flutter, Qt, Rust, and more) and PWA's alike should appreciate the flexibility the Store team is bringing with the following tools.
- Automating Store Submissions. Using the new GitHub Action or Rest APIs, developers will be able to automate and manage app submissions directly from their CI/CD build pipeline. Microsoft Power Toys is a great example. You can learn more here.
- App visibility. Developers can now make their Win32 apps undiscoverable, to test them with a small group before going live, for example.
- App telemetry. Developers can now access new analytic dashboards to get more insights about their Win32apps, to understand their user acquisition funnel, app usage, health metrics, and install success analytics.
- App reviews. Developers can now engage with and respond to reviews on Win32 apps
- PWA Starter. This capability helps developers bootstrap their development of PWAs, aiding with performance, integration with the host Operating System, and guidelines for a great user experience.
- PWA Studio. This is a new Visual Studio Code extension to help build, package, and publish PWAs to Microsoft Store without leaving Visual Studio Code.
- Meta Quest support. PWAs in Microsoft Store are already supported on HoloLens devices, and Meta has recently announced support for PWAs on its VRdevices. Microsoft and Meta partnered to make PWABuilder the ultimate tool for packaging PWAs for virtual and mixed reality, giving developers the ability to sideload packages for Meta Quest and HoloLens.