After taking a brief downtime for maintenance, Microsoft unveiled the next version of the App Hub, the Windows Phone Dev Center on August 7. The new site is simpler, cleaner and of course, provides the back-end updates needed to support the upcoming Windows Phone 8-related features.
Some of the key upgrades/updates made:
- Re-design: Instead of overwhelming the visitor with information, it now shows three simple launching points: Submit App, Get SDK, and View Samples.
- Market expansion: Since the new site is built on top of a more robust infrastructure, more market opporunities are now available to developers.
- Pricing flexibility: Developers can now set different prices for different markets.
- Analytics: Developers can now see all ratings and reviews in one place as opposed to viewing it by market earlier.
- In-App Purchasing: Although some game developers have implemented in-app purchasing in Windows Phone 7.x today, they are using the Xbox LIVE back-end and Microsoft Points to implement the feature. With Windows Phone 8 (maybe tied to Microsoft Wallet?), any developer can use native functionality to enable in-app purchases. The Windows Phone Dev Center is now built to support the feature for Windows Phone 8 apps.
- Beta testing: Currently, a developer could set up only 100 testers in a beta program. Going forward, it would be “thousands” of testers.
- Flexible sign-up and submission: Many tweaks to the sign-up and submit options to make it easier for a developer to create an account and submit an app. As an example, Microsoft has introduced a default option to submit to all markets except where additional content check is required.
- Reports: Besides breaking down downloads by Free, Paid, Trial and Beta, new reports will also show if paid downloads are without trial or after trial. This will help developers gain insight into the trial feature usage. Simultaneously, the latency will be improved so these app download reports will be available sooner than they currently are.
- More streamlined content: Hooks into MSDN content directly from the site make it useful for developers looking for forums, technical documentation, etc.
This seems like a major upgrade to the developer portal, and given how big Windows Phone 8 promises to be (in terms of developer features, support, etc.), this is a necessary step which would be welcomed by all developers. I have seen a lot of complaints on twitter from Windows Phone developers about the performance of the now-retired App Hub. Hopefully this redesign and a solid update to the underlying infrastructure will cover them for some time to come!
Image: From Windows Team Blog