The company outlined some of the developer-friendly changes coming to the Windows Store ahead of the Windows 10 launch.
Microsoft is making it easier for developers to monetize their apps when the highly anticipated Windows 10 operating system arrives in 2015, according to Todd Brix, general manager of Windows Apps and Store.
The software giant is working to beef up Windows Store, Microsoft's take on app marketplaces like Apple's App Store and Google Play. Despite trailing them in app count and popularity, Windows Store did make some big gains in 2014, revealed Brix in a company blog post
"We made good progress by both attracting over 30 percent more active users and by exceeding a 110 percent year-over-year increase in app downloads and gross sales," stated Brix. "In addition, the ecosystem has grown, with an 80 percent increase in registered developers and 60 percent increase in app selection year-over-year."
Microsoft's mission in the new year is to keep this momentum going and help improve the Windows app ecosystem.
"Providing a platform where developers can be successful remains our number one goal as we look to 2015," said Brix. Priorities include enabling app developers to target various device classes and regions, as well as "reducing the amount of time and effort it takes to move from ideas to installs."
To start, Microsoft will continue to pursue carrier billing—the ability to apply app purchases to cell phone bills—in emerging markets. Carrier billing has led to an eightfold increase in average transaction volume in high-growth markets. Currently, Windows Store carrier billing is available in 46 regions, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, India and Vietnam.
"You will also see us work with carriers to more aggressively promote this purchase [option] to their subscriber base," Brix said. "Carrier billing rounds out a range of payment choices that includes credit cards, Alipay, PayPal and—new this year—app-gifting with digital gift cards (available in Canada, France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.) and Bitcoin (U.S. only)."
Microsoft also plans to help developers earn more money from in-app ads.
"We are increasing our focus on in-app advertising to help improve fill rates and grow developer revenue," stated Brix. "The recent release of Windows ad mediation for Windows Phone developers is one example, improving fill rates to over 95 percent and increasing revenue up to 200 percent."
Microsoft will continue to refine the Windows Store user interface to improve app discoverability, he added. Even novice coders can get in on the act.
"Windows App Studio Beta enabled those with great ideas but no development experience to bring their ideas to life," Brix said. "We will continue to enhance this toolset in 2015, integrating new capabilities like the recent addition of TouchDevelop."
Finally, the company plans to continue streamlining the complete Windows Store app publishing process, an effort the company kicked off in 2014 with the shift to Windows Dev Center lifetime registrations. "We have much more work to do to simplify and unify the experience and you can expect the evolution to continue over the coming months," said Brix.