Microsoft has rebranded its Windows Phone Marketplace under the new name Windows Phone Store and made a few changes to make things easier and better for users.
In a post on the Windows Phone Blog, Microsoft's Mazhar Mohammed said the changes have begun rolling out, starting in Australia and New Zealand and will be gradually working their way to the rest of the world.
"The first thing you'll discover is the official site has a cleaner design and a couple new menu options," Mohammed said. These include an updated News feature that focuses on news coverage and opinion about Windows Phone. There also is a new Apps & Games menu option that replaces the old Marketplace menu option.
"Starting today we're retiring the name Marketplace and renaming it the Windows Phone Store," Mohammed said. "By doing so, we're following the lead of Windows 8 and its Windows Store for apps and games. The two even share the same Store icon."
The Window Phone Store also sports a few improvements designed to make finding great apps and games for your phone even easier, he said. For instance, the Search box is better, since it now relies on the Bing search engine to supply results, Mohammed said, adding:
The new Search box makes it easier to:
- Find apps even if you make spelling mistakes or typos-for example, "Facebok" instead of "Facebook."
- Find similar apps more easily. For example, type "guitar" and you'll see relevant apps even if they don't have "guitar" in the title.
- Find apps in the same genre. Type "health" to see apps related to dieting, exercise and more.
In addition, the Windows Phone Store makes finding apps easier by clarifying the sorting and browsing option of New, Free and Top. For example, there are now listings of Top Free and Top Paid apps. There also is a renamed and improved "New+Rising" list. There is a Spotlight list for recently published apps chosen by Microsoft's in-house experts. And a "best-rated" list has been added to the lineup, Mohammed said.
He added that Microsoft has moved to make the store a bit friendlier for users who prefer not to have racy apps easily visible or who want to be able to on the phone or to be able to report apps that concern them. Microsoft has made reporting easier with a "Report concern" link on every app's download page.
Meanwhile, in other related news, Microsoft announced that its Windows Store is now open to developers in 120 markets. This is the last significant milestone in the rollout of the Windows Store before the general availability of Windows 8 on Oct. 26, Microsoft said.
In a recent blog post, Ted Dworkin, partner program manager for the Windows Store, said Microsoft added 82 markets to more than double the number of markets supported.
In addition, Dworkin said, "We're also announcing a number of additional subscription program offerings that recognize and thank developers for their interest and commitment to Windows. All eligible MSDN subscribers receive a free, one-year Windows Store developer account as part of their MSDN benefits. (Eligible subscriptions include Visual Studio Professional, Test Professional, Premium, Ultimate and BizSpark.) We have a program for students-DreamSpark-that similarly waives the subscription fee. And we have an offer for businesses in our BizSpark program, as well."
Developers interested in submitting apps should go to the Windows Store Dashboard on the Windows Dev Center and sign up. "The dev tools are free, the SDK is ready, and we have a ton of great supporting content to help you build your app and submit it for Store certification," Dworkin said.