Microsoft has released a bunch of new goodness for Windows Phone 7 developers, including the rollout of the new App Hub developer portal.
App Hub is where developers manage their account, change settings, submit applications and stay up-to-date on Windows Phone. And Microsoft has updated the App Hub for its "Mango" release of the phone operating system. The updated App Hub features enhancements such as more geographic markets for developers, consumers and advertising coverage; new private distribution options; and enhanced application and account management capabilities. Developers can begin submitting Mango apps to App Hub in August, so Microsoft wants them to be prepared.
"The combination of new platform capabilities such as multitasking and hardware-accelerated IE9 with the new opportunities that come from our partnership with Nokia and expansion to twice as many consumer markets is attracting a new wave of Windows Phone developers," said Todd Brix, senior director of Windows Phone product management at Microsoft, in a July 20 blog post about the new App Hub.
Brix said there are now 19 new consumer markets for Windows Phone apps. "Starting today developers can publish their apps to consumers in 19 new countries, in addition to the 16 that Marketplace already supports,' he said. "The 19 new markets include Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan."
There also are seven new developer markets. As of July 20, developers from seven new markets -- Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, South Africa and South Korea -- can register in App Hub and submit apps. And in a couple of months -- early fall 2011 -- developers will also be able to register from China. "We will also expand the registration support already available in India," Brix said.
Microsoft also updated the Windows Phone 7 application price tiers to maintain consistent pricing across markets. And Microsoft is expanding its in-app advertising market using its pubCenter ad serving application, Brix said.
"The international availability of Microsoft pubCenter remains a priority so developers can receive mobile in-app advertising revenue in their local currency," Brix said in his post. "To this end, Microsoft Advertising pubCenter will support Windows Phone 7 app developers in the following 18 countries by the end of 2011: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom."
Brix also said Microsoft is working to provide more effective ad monetization and expand overall demand for applications.
In addition, Microsoft is offering developers two new private distribution options: beta and targeted distribution. Apps distributed through these private distribution methods can only be downloaded by users using a deep-link and the apps cannot be discovered via browsing or searching in Windows Phone Marketplace, Brix said.
Beta distribution enables developers to distribute pre-certified apps to a group of up to 100 access-controlled beta testers for up to 90 days. "This distribution method gives you the opportunity to test apps with a hand-picked set of beta testers more quickly and build high-quality apps before publishing them in Marketplace," Brix said.
The targeted distribution enables developers to distribute applications through Marketplace in a hidden state, where they are not discoverable via browsing or searching Marketplace. "To enable targeted users to access your hidden app you simply share the deep-link to the app with the users you want to have access via email, text or other mechanism," Brix said. "Unlike beta distribution, you may distribute your app to as many users as desired and publish publicly in Marketplace at any time."
Other enhancements to the Mango App Hub include better application management, an enhanced developer dashboard, more detailed reporting, a new "Crash Count" report, a streamlined application submission process and new application categories - education, kids & family, and government and politics.
In summary, Brix called on Windows Phone 7 developers to do three things: Increase their global distribution opportunities, review app prices and submit Mango apps in August.