Tag Archives: XBOX

Indie Up! The First Wave of Creators Program Games Are Available Now

Back in March, we unveiled the Xbox Live Creators Program. Starting today, I’m excited to announce that any developer can directly publish their games to Xbox One and Windows 10. And, the first wave of games from the Creators Program are live right now for everyone on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs! This is an important step for Team Xbox as we continue to deliver a large and diverse lineup of games from creators big and small from around the world.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about the Creators Program, what it means for games to be available in the Creators Collection, why developers should signup, what gamers can expect, and look at some of the first games available starting today.

First, what is the Creators Program? Xbox empowers game developers large and small to create different types of games for every type of players. It’s all about offering a diverse range of games, and this program has that for sure! The Creators Program was established to enable developers to directly publish their games – any of their games – to Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, with a simplified certification process and no concept approval required.

Developers that publish through the Creators Program have the freedom and independence to develop games that are truly unique, resulting in a collection with games that can be quirky and have varying degrees of polish, but are always interesting.

Here’s a quick look at the first titles that will be available via the program:

  • Animal Rivals, Blue Sunset Games: Animal Rivals is an action-packed couch party game for one to four players. Drop into the game and fight for the Animalonia’s throne as one of the furry contenders in different mini-games and locations. Game itself presents a unique art style mixing the cartoonish looks and satire approach. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • Block Dropper, Tresiris Games: Block Dropper is a fast paced, arcade style, 3D platformer. Try not to fall as you guide your character through the challenging single player mode or grab a friend to battle head to head in a local multiplayer Block Battle Arena. Tresiris is a small game studio based in Olathe, Kansas, who create fun and simple games with quality as their top priority. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • Crystal Brawl, Studio Mercato: Gauntlet meets NBA Jam in Crystal Brawl, a 2v2 capture-the-flag local multiplayer game that melds fast action with MOBA-like strategy. Choose from a variety of characters with different abilities, with a notable twist: each character has a unique ability that alters the terrain. Experiment with different character combinations to uncover hidden strategies! Studio Mercato is an independent game studio based in New York City. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • Derelict Fleet, Bionic Pony: Derelict Fleet is a fast-paced space combat game. You are tasked with defending a refugee fleet as you travel the stars searching for a new colony to call home. Bionic Pony is a small indie studio based in Tampa, FL that started making Xbox Live indie games in 2010. (Xbox One)
  • ERMO, Nonostante: ERMO is a relaxing puzzle game featured with a calming and peaceful graphics. Immerse yourself in the landscapes and colors of ERMO and let you be carried away. You will learn the rules in a few seconds, but ERMO will catch you for hours. (Xbox One)
  • GalactiMAX!, ONLYUSEmeFEET: In the vast darkness of space, GalactiMAX has the player shooting aliens for points to pierce the heavens in classic arcade shooter action! As more aliens are defeated, the player’s ship will increase in size and power. How big can this ship get?! (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • kubic, Pixel Envision Ltd: kubic is a relaxing optical illusion puzzle game based on M.C. Escher’s art, impossible objects and other geometric designs. The object is to construct the goal configuration from a number of pieces. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • Space Cat!, GershGamesLLC: Shoot your way past an onslaught of enemies and bosses. Collect weapon upgrades like missiles, bombs, laser beams and much more. GershGamesLLC is a group of young hobbyists that makes for fun on the weekends. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • Stereo Aereo, The Stonebot Studio: Stereo Aereo is an action rhythm game that is inspired by the pop-culture influences of the 80’s. You, the player, have to make sure that the mediocre space rockband Stereo Aereo, gets to their life changing concert, on time, in this comic styled sci-fi game. (Xbox One, Windows 10)

Where can you find the games? On Windows 10 the games are in the Games category of the Store. On Xbox One, the games can be found in the Creators Collection, a special section of the Xbox One Store which you can find in the Games section. Why a special section? We think it’s awesome to open up development to anyway with no barriers – no traditional certification, no “concept approval,” and no limitations. But we also listened to feedback from players, parents and developers who let us know they love the curated store experience on Xbox One. This gives us all the best of both worlds: A curated store and a fully open marketplace in the Creators Collection.

For developers, publishing games through the Creators Program is easy. First, you can take advantage of tools you’re already using; like a retail Xbox One console, the free Dev Mode Activation app from the Xbox Store, and game engines like Unity, Construct 2, MonoGame, and Xenko. Second, there are minimal barriers to the program; use a Microsoft Developer account which can cost as little as $20, download the Xbox Live Creators SDK, create your game, and then ship it through a short and simplified certification process. That’s it!

Games published through the Creators Program have access to the full set of social features from Xbox Live, including sign-in and presence, use of your Gamertag, leaderboards, access to your Activity Feed, Game Hubs, Clubs, Party Chat, Game DVR, and broadcasting on Mixer.

As an open program, Creators Program games don’t have access to Achievements, Gamerscore, or internet multiplayer. To access those features, professional developers can go through the ID@Xbox program. Of course, there’s a path for games to move from the Creators Program to ID@Xbox during development (or even after they reach the Store) if a developer decides they want to add Gamerscore, Achievements, or internet multiplayer.

While ID@Xbox was designed for professional game developers who wish to use the full set of Xbox Live features through a full certification process, the Creators Program makes publishing a game accessible to anyone. Whether they’re small or budding studios, hobbyists, makers, teachers and students, or if they’re just learning the ropes – the Creators Program is a simplified way to create and ship games to the Xbox community.

We hope players will enjoy the games in the Creators Collection. You’ll find creative games, some familiar styles, and some brand-new experiences; really, whatever these imaginative developers chose to make. Gamers can expect the Creators Collection on their Xbox One, and the Window Store on their PC, to regularly add new games as developers finish their work. And these are unfiltered games directly from the developers themselves, so your feedback is of course welcomed.

This is just the beginning. We’ll be sure to spotlight more of the diverse array of Creators Program games that catch our eyes right here on Xbox Wire. I can’t wait to see all the games that these developers will create, and of course, I can’t wait to play them. Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime, have fun!

Buy Once, Hoon Twice: Xbox Partners with Hoonigan and Ken Block to Bring New Forza Content

Xbox and the Forza franchise have teamed up with motorsport-lifestyle brand Hoonigan to bring some of the most iconic Hoonigan cars to Forza Motorsport 7 and Forza Horizon 3.

Fans who pre-order Forza Motorsport 7 digitally will receive Hoonigan Car Packs for both games at no additional cost. The Forza Horizon 3 Hoonigan Car Pack will become available on Aug. 15 for free in the Xbox Store for Forza Motorsport 7 pre-order customers, with the Forza Motorsport 7 Hoonigan Car Pack available to play on Sept. 29 for Ultimate Edition owners through early access, and Oct. 3 for Deluxe and Standard Edition owners.

  • The Forza Horizon 3 Hoonigan Car Pack includes the 1965 Hoonigan Ford Mustang Hoonicorn RTR V2, 1979 Hoonigan Baldwin Motorsports “Loki” K5 Blazer, 1955 Hoonigan Chevrolet Bel Air, 1972 Hoonigan Chevrolet “Napalm Nova”, 1978 Hoonigan Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800, 1992 Hoonigan Mazda RX-7 Twerkstallion and 1991 Hoonigan Rauh-Welt Begriff Porsche 911 Turbo. The pack is also available for standalone purchase for $6.99.
  • The Forza Motorsport 7 Hoonigan Car Pack includes the 1965 Hoonigan Ford Mustang Hoonicorn RTR V2, 1955 Hoonigan Chevrolet Bel Air, 1972 Hoonigan Chevrolet “Napalm Nova”, 1978 Hoonigan Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800, 1992 Hoonigan Mazda RX-7 Twerkstallion, 2003 Hoonigan Holden Commodore Ute, 1991 Hoonigan Rauh-Welt Begriff Porsche 911 Turbo and a set of in-game Hoonigan Driver Gear.

This is the latest of the collaborations between Forza and Hoonigan including last year’s debut of Gymkhana NINE, inspired by the in-game stunts of Forza Horizon 3, and the videogame debut of Ken Block’s 2016 Ford Focus RS RX #43 rally car in the Forza Horizon 3 Blizzard Mountain expansion. Today, Ken joins the family as an official Forza ambassador, and we’ll have more to share about additional joint events and film projects in the future.

“I’m really excited about the fact that we’re releasing a Hoonigan car pack with Forza,” said Block. “The fact that fans are going to be able to drive not just my twin-turbo, 1400 hp Hoonicorn RTR V2 that I’m running in Climbkhana, but also my Gymkhana Escort, is awesome. Plus being able to drive BJ’s Loki, [Brian] Scotto’s 911 and all of the other cars? None of us actually let anyone else drive our cars really, so this is definitely the best chance anyone’s going to have to get behind the wheels.”

Here’s a sneak peek at some additional Forza and Hoonigan content coming your way soon:

  • Hoonigan Co-hosted Livestream – Join us on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 2 p.m. on  https://mixer.com/forzamotorsport for a livestream event direct from Hoonigan’s Donut Garage in Long Beach, CA. Cohosted by the Hoonigan and Forza teams, the stream will feature new gameplay with the Hoonigan cars and showcase a collection of the actual Hoonigan cars.
  • Daily Transmission – Ahead of the livestream, the Forza Horizon 3 Hoonigan Car Pack will be featured in upcoming episodes of Hoonigan’s Daily Transmission show. Tune in on August 15th and 16th to see Hert & Kado explore the outback in their signature style.
  • Climbkhana at Petersen Automotive Museum – Forza is proud to co-sponsor the premiere event of Ken Block’s highly anticipated “Toyo Tires presents Climbkhana: Pikes Peak,” at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles this September 24th. Climbkhana features Ken Block’s twin-turbo, 1400 horsepower 1965 Ford Mustang “Hoonicorn RTR V2,” which will tackle the 14,115-foot Pikes Peak in Colorado with Ken himself at the wheel. More information can be found on the Petersen Museum website.

Forza Motorsport 7 is available in Standard, Deluxe and Ultimate Editions, and launches worldwide on Oct. 3, 2017. Pre-order to start hooning!

For Sale – HP EliteDisplay E232 IPS Monitor + XBox 360 wireless controllers

HP EliteDisplay E232 IPS Monitor £85 PPG no box, collection only
2x official XBox 360 controllers for PC with 2x official play and charge kits £70 PPG

Price and currency: £££
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: Paypal
Location: London
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

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DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

You Asked, We Listened: Fans Can Now Opt into the Xbox Insider Program

The Xbox Insider Program is growing, and with that growth comes exciting new opportunities. Alongside our continual efforts to hear all feedback shared by the Xbox Insider community, we’re now simplifying entry into the Xbox One Update Preview rings and partnering with 1st and 3rd party studios to provide Xbox Insiders with early access to Alpha and closed Beta playtests of Xbox Live-enabled games on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. This means Xbox gamers will now be able to easily opt into the Xbox Insider program and gain earlier access to the latest system updates and flighted games!

Xbox One Update Preview Flights

As the Xbox Insider Program has evolved to enable new and better experiences, so have the Xbox One Update Preview rings. We previously increased the number of rings and changed the names of the rings that provide Xbox Insider community members with a preview of updates. These changes help the development team by providing more in-depth, critical testing data, which they use to then update and refine features based on fan feedback, ensuring optimal user experiences when system updates reach general availability.

One of our key goals since creating the Xbox Insider Program has been ensuring interested Xbox users can provide valuable feedback on system updates before they are broadly released. We’ve enjoyed seeing that you, our community, share that same goal. Many of you – especially in Ring 3 and Ring 4 – have expressed interest in the opportunity to share feedback earlier in the preview process. As a result of this feedback, starting today we’re better recognizing your participation and dedication by activating user-selected ring shifts – available for those who have reached certain Xbox Insider XP and tenure milestones – for fans to enroll in previously “closed” rings.

To clarify these changes, we’re renaming preview Ring 3 and Ring 4. Here’s more information on these Insider ring changes:

Xbox Insiders Image

With these updates, many new Xbox Insiders – previously limited to Ring 3 or Ring 4 – will be able to join the Xbox One Update Preview Beta and Delta groups, thereby expanding the types of updates and features they’ll be able to test right away.

One important note for users who select enrollment in the Delta group to be aware of: a portion of Delta Insiders will receive preview builds earlier than others, based on a random lottery process. This means that while all users in the Delta ring will receive new console updates prior to their official release, some Delta Insiders will receive updates before others. This process gives developers a better understanding of how different sets of users experience new features, when introduced.

In addition to changing how Xbox One Preview Update rings function, we’re also providing Xbox Insiders with more flexibility in how they receive updates. As you gain access to deeper Insider rings, you’ll still retain access to lower rings, too. This means if you’re concerned with bandwidth usage or the frequency of updates, you can simply move to a lower ring whenever you’d like. What’s more, those who own multiple consoles can enroll those consoles individually into any of the Insider rings for which they’re eligible using the same gamertag across each.

Here’s some detail on the average number of monthly updates per ring, combined with the rough average monthly bandwidth usage per ring:

Xbox Insiders Image

Game & App Flights

As we said earlier, the Xbox Insider Team is working closely with multiple 1st party and 3rd party game studios to bring you playtests of unreleased games. Recently we partnered with our friends at Rare and already thousands of gamers are sailing the Sea of Thieves across both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.  This spring, Paladins was initially available to Xbox Insiders with an XP level of 10 or higher, then Xbox Insiders with XP > level 5, before being released to all Xbox Insiders a few weeks before the game was generally available.

Along with games, Xbox Insiders can also get early access to unreleased Xbox console apps and updates, so keep checking the Xbox Insider Hub to see if new content opportunities are available to you!

Thank You

In closing, we simply want to say thank you to our Xbox Insiders for working closely with Team Xbox to build and improve not only the gaming experience on Xbox One but also multiple games and apps across PC and console. Not yet an Xbox Insider and interested in joining the program? It’s easy to get started!  Simply navigate to the Store on Xbox One,  search for the “Xbox Insider Hub,” download the app and get started testing new console updates, games and apps.

-The Xbox Insider Team

Latest Xbox Update Releases to Insiders Starting Today

It’s an exciting day at Team Xbox as Xbox Insiders in the Alpha Ring will get a first look at the latest Xbox update. This release is the next major update for gaming on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, and is designed to make the Xbox gaming experience more fun, personalized, and social than ever. We’ve heard feedback from our fans that they want the ability to customize Home the way they want. This new experience on Xbox One gives gamers more choice and delivers fun faster. Updates to Home, Guide and Community are available today, with updates to Avatars, Game Hubs, Profiles and more coming this fall. Windows 10 PCs will also receive updates to the Game bar and Gaming settings menu. Here’s a detailed look at some of the new features that will arrive for Xbox Insiders starting today and continuing throughout the next few months:

.GIF of new content blocks on Xbox One

Customize Your Home: The first thing Insiders will notice is the new Home on Xbox One. This update is all about personalization; we’re putting the control in your hands, so that you can decide what to see when you turn on your console. The new look and feel is part of a design system called Microsoft Fluent Design; the look, feel, and movement of the dashboard has been updated to focus on speed, customization and expression—for you. Now, customize your Home screen to be uniquely yours, and view all the things you love at-a-glance. Have a favorite game or friend? Add them to Home!  Select one, press the Menu button on your controller, and select “Add to Home.”  This now creates an entire block of content that can be moved up or down—or removed altogether, should your interests or habits change. These blocks will evolve over time based on the things you like to do. For example, adding a game to your Home screen may pull in an Activity Feed post from the developer, show when your friends are playing that game online, suggest your next Achievement, and provide a quick shortcut to the Game Hub for that title. We’ll be adding additional types of content blocks in the coming months, so stay tuned for more. The team is always pushing to make the Xbox experience faster and faster. In this release, we’ve eliminated the wait between Home, Social, and My Games and Apps by consolidating them into one dashboard experience. No more splash screens means you get to fun even faster.

UI of New Xbox One Guide

Effortless Guide Navigation: With this update, it’s faster than ever to switch between tabs in the guide so you can join friends, broadcast, switch between apps, and get back Home. New tab flyouts make it easier to see more content quickly, too. The new Guide layout quickly gets you to the stuff you care about, so you never miss a moment. It’s now even easier to switch between apps or get back to Home, and the new layout will enable you to quickly jump to different tabs using the left thumbstick, d-pad, or bumpers on your controller. Sign-in, Achievements, multiplayer (including parties, Looking for Group, and tournaments), People, Home and recent, messages, broadcasts and captures, and a new action center (including settings) each have their own tab in the new Guide.

.GIF of Community UI on Xbox One

A More Immersive Community: Staying connected with Friends and Clubs is now better than ever. The community section has an entirely new Activity Feed layout, showing more content at-a-glance.  When looking at feed items in detail, they are presented in an immersive, full-screen view—sharing the experience just as it was captured.  Reading comments is now much easier since the comment window can be expanded to fill the screen. You’ll now be able to skim the feed quickly or lean back on the couch and walk through it in detail – it’s entirely up to you. This makes it easier than ever to stay current with the games and friends you care about. Game Hubs, Profiles, and Clubs are also refreshed to make them more dynamic and engaging than ever before.  We’re also making Improvements to Club discovery, to quickly display which Clubs you’re already a part of, and easily discover new Clubs to join.  There will also be new titles that will be coming to Arena over the next few months, soon offering even more options for tournaments powered by Xbox Live.

Game bar on Windows 10

Game Bar Gets Even Better: On Windows 10, we’re making it easier than ever to enable or disable Game Mode on a per-game basis by putting a switch directly in the Game bar. Mixer broadcasting with the Game bar will now give you more choices on the audio you broadcast; a new settings option will let you choose to broadcast game-only audio, or system-wide audio.  We’ve also added a new Xbox Live Network Troubleshooting option to the Settings menu in Windows 10, which will help you track down connectivity issues and optimize your online multiplayer experience.

This is just the beginning of some major updates arriving for Xbox gamers later this year.  We’ll be introducing plenty of new features in the coming months across Xbox One, Windows 10 PC, Mixer, and mobile devices designed to make your gaming experiences all about you. As always, we owe some big thanks for all the fan feedback we receive and review from gamers everywhere, as well as to the invaluable members of our Xbox Insider Program for all the feedback they provide regularly. We’ll be sharing more when the update releases to more fans later this year. The team has worked hard, and we hope you enjoy these latest updates to your Xbox One experience! And of course, don’t forget to tell us what you think.

Mike Ybarra
Gamertag: Qwik
Twitter: @XboxQwik

Calling all game devs: The Dream.Build.Play 2017 Challenge is Here!

Dream.Build.Play is back! The long-running indie game development contest was on hiatus for a few years, so it’s high time for it to make a resounding return.

The Dream.Build.Play 2017 Challenge is the new contest: It just launched on June 27, and it challenges you to build a game and submit it by December 31 in one of four categories. We’re not super-picky — you can choose the technology to use just so long as it falls into one of the challenges and that you publish it as a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) game. It’s up to you to build a quality game that people will line up to play.

The four categories are:

Cloud-powered game – Grand Prize: $100,000 USD

Azure Cloud Services hands you a huge amount of back-end power and flexibility, and we think it’s cool (yes, we’re biased). So, here’s your shot of trying Azure out and maybe even win big. Build a game that uses Azure Cloud Services on the backend, like Service Fabric, CosmosDB, containers, VMs, storage and Analytics. Judges will give higher scores to games that use multiple services in creative ways — and will award bonus points for Mixer integration.

PC game – Grand Prize: $50,000 USD

Building on Windows 10, for Windows 10? This is the category for you. Create your best UWP game that lives and breathes on Windows 10 and is available to the more than 450 million users through the Windows Store. It’s simple: Create a game with whatever technology you want and publish it in the Windows Store. We’ll look favorably on games that add Windows 10 features such as Cortana or Inking because we really want to challenge you.

Mixed Reality game – Grand Prize: $50,000

Oh, so you want to enhance this world you live in with something a little…augmented? Virtual? Join us in the Mixed Reality challenge and build a volumetric experience that takes advantage of 3D content in a virtual space. You’ll need to create your game for Windows Mixed Reality, but you can use technology like Unity to get you kickstarted. Oh, and don’t forget the audio to really immerse us in your world.

Console game – Grand Prize: $25,000

Console gamers unite! Want to try your hand at building a game for Xbox? This category is your jam. Your UWP game will be built for the Xbox One console family and must incorporate Xbox Live Creators Program with at least Xbox Live presence. Consideration will be given for games that incorporate more Xbox Live services such as leaderboards and statistics.

There are some important dates to be aware of:

  • June 27: Competition opens for registration
  • August 2: Team formation and game submission period opens
  • December 31: Game submission period closes
  • January 2018: Finalists announced
  • March 2018: Winners awarded

We have big things planned for you. Maybe some additional contests and challenges, maybe some extra-cool prizes for the finalists, maybe some extra-cool interviews and educational materials. Once you register, we’ll keep you updated via email, but also keep an eye on our Windows Developer social media accounts.

As I mentioned earlier, you can pretty much use whatever technology you want. Create something from the ground up in JavaScript or XAML or C++ and DirectX. Leverage one of our great middleware partners like Unity, GameMaker, Cocos2D or Monogame. Or do a bit of both – do your own thing and incorporate Mixer APIs into it, Vungle or any one (or more) of our other partners. The biggest thing we want from you is a fun game that’s so enjoyable for us to play that we forget we’re judging it!

Speaking of that, you might be wondering how we judge the games. We have four “big bucket” criteria for you to aim for:

  • Fun Factor – 40%: Bottom line – your game needs to be fun. That doesn’t mean it has to be cutesy or simple. Fun comes in many forms, but we can’t forget what we’re aiming for here – a great game. Take us for a ride!
  • Innovation – 30%: And while you’re taking us on that ride, surprise us! We’re not looking for a clone of an existing game or a tired theme that has been done a bazillion times before. Mash-up two genres. Take a theme and turn it on its head. Don’t restrict your innovation to the game, but also the technology you’re using and how you’re using it. Think outside the box when you incorporate Windows features, or how you can creatively use a service like Mixer.
  • Production Quality – 20%: Games have to be fun and we want them to be innovative, but if they don’t run, then they’re just not ready to be called a game. This scoring criterion is all about making sure your framerate is right, you have audio where you should, you’ve catered for network instability and more. Give us every opportunity to get to your game and enjoy it the way you intended.
  • Business Viability/Feasibility – 10%: And of course, what’s your plan to engage your gaming customers? Do you have a good revenue-generating plan (e.g., in-app purchases, premium charges, marketing, rollouts, etc.)? That’s stuff you might not normally think about, but we’re gonna make you. Because we care.

If you want to get started with UWP game development, you can try our Game Development Guide.

Want more? Check out the introductory .GAME episode here:

So, what are you waiting for? Get in there and register!

Announcing Project Rome iOS SDK

Project Rome is a platform for enabling seamless cross-device and cross-platform experiences. The philosophy behind Project Rome is simple. App experiences shouldn’t be tied to a single device any more than data should be tied to a single device. Your apps, like your data, should travel with you.

Previously, this meant switching between devices, while maintaining a single user experience, on a different Windows device. A few months ago, Project Rome features were extended to the Android platform, allowing you to start an app session on your Android phone and continue it on a Windows PC, an Xbox One or even a Surface Hub.

Now, Project Rome support is also being extended to the iOS platform. You can download the Project Rome SDK for iOS here.

Revisiting the Contoso music app

If you have been following the evolution of Project Rome, you’ll be familiar with our developer friend Paul and his example Contoso Music app. Paul was originally introduced in a blog post on Cross-device experiences to help us understand a typical Project Rome scenario.

He expanded his UWP music streaming app to run across multiple Windows devices tied to the same Microsoft Account (MSA). Using Project Rome, Paul changed how his app worked so a user streaming a song on a Windows PC could then transfer that song to his Xbox. Then, as he got ready to go out for a run, he could transfer the current playlist to his Windows Phone.

In the subsequent post, Paul developed an Android version of Contoso Music app and used the Project Rome Android SDK to allow a user to start playing a song on her Android phone and continue playing it on a Windows device when he or she got home. The Contoso Music app was now cross-platform, transferring smoothly from one platform to the next.

Extending to iOS

Let’s imagine that based on the success of his Windows and Android versions, Paul develops an iOS version of Contoso Music. When examining his telemetry after a few months, Paul sees that all his apps are doing well, like his Windows and Android versions. However, there is a common theme in the user feedback; users are finding it difficult handling device switching. So, Paul wants to enable a scenario in which a user can listen to music on the iPhone over headphones, then enter the living room and immediately switch to playing the same music over his Xbox, connected to quality speakers.

With the Project Rome iOS SDK, Paul can create a bridge between iOS devices and Windows devices in two stages:

  • The RemoteSystems API allows the app to discover Windows devices the user owns. The RemoteSystems API will allow the Contoso Music app to discover these devices on the same network or through the cloud.
  • Once discovered, the RemoteLauncher API will launch the Contoso Music app on another Windows device.

How Paul gets it done

In order for Paul’s user to switch from playing music on an iOS device to a Windows device, his app must find out about the other device. This action requires using MSA OAuth to get permission to query for devices and then attempting to discover additional devices, as shown in the diagram below.


// Asynchronously initialize the Rome Platform.
  // Pass in self as class implements the CDOAuthCodeProviderDelegate protocol.
  [CDPlatform startWithOAuthCodeProviderDelegate:self completion:^(NSError* clientError) {
                                              if (clientError)
                                              {
                                                  // Handle error
                                                  return;
                                              }

                                              // Handle success, show discovery screen
                                      }];

// Implementation of CDOAuthCodeProviderDelegate
// The Rome SDK calls this delegate method when it needs an OAuth Access Code from the application.
- (NSError*)getAccessCode:(NSString*)signinUrl completion: (void (^)(NSError* error, NSString* accessCode))completion {

// Stash away the callback the SDK gives us
_getTokenCallback = completion;

  // Show the interactive OAuth Web View flow.
  // Once the OAuth flow completes or fails, invoke this callback.
  ...

// Return nil as there was no error
  return nil;
}

Once initialized, Paul’s app can discover all devices in the user’s MSA device graph by initiating discovery using CDRemoteSystemDiscoveryManager. Information about discovered devices are raised through the CDRemoteSystemDiscoveryManagerDelegate protocol. In In our example, we store each discovered device within an NSMutableArray property called discoveredSystems.


// Create instance and pass ‘self’ as the delegate as it implements CDRemoteSystemDiscoveryManagerDelegate.
CDRemoteSystemDiscoveryManager* remoteSystemDiscoveryManager = [[CDRemoteSystemDiscoveryManager alloc] initWithDelegate:self];

// Start discovery.
[remoteSystemDiscoveryManager startDiscovery];

// CDRemoteSystemDiscoveryManagerDelegate implementation
- (void)remoteSystemDiscoveryManager:
            (CDRemoteSystemDiscoveryManager*)discoveryManager
                             didFind:(CDRemoteSystem*)remoteSystem {
  @synchronized(self) {
     [self.discoveredSystems addObject:remoteSystem];
      // Refresh UI based upon updated state in discoveredSystems e.g. populate table
   }
}

- (void)remoteSystemDiscoveryManager:
            (CDRemoteSystemDiscoveryManager*)discoveryManager
                           didUpdate:(CDRemoteSystem*)remoteSystem {
  NSString* id = remoteSystem.id;

// Loop through and update the Remote System instance if previously seen.
  @synchronized(self) {
    for (unsigned i = 0; i < self.discoveredSystems.count; i++) {
      CDRemoteSystem* currentRemoteSystem =
          [self.discoveredSystems objectAtIndex:i];
      NSString* currentId = currentRemoteSystem.id;

      if ([currentId isEqualToString:id]) {
        [self.discoveredSystems replaceObjectAtIndex:i withObject:remoteSystem];
        break;
      }
    }

       // Refresh UI based upon updated state in discoveredSystems e.g. populate table
  }
}

The user can now select the device he wants to transfer music to from the list of devices that have been discovered. From the selected CDRemoteSystem, an instance of CDRemoteSystemConnectionRequest is instantiated as shown in the sequence diagram below. Using CDRemoteLauncher, Paul is then able to remotely launch the app on the selected device while also including necessary additional contextual information, such as the song currently playing.

Here’s how to remote-launch http://www.bing.com to your device:


// Create a connection request using the CDRemoteSystem instance selected by the user
  CDRemoteSystemConnectionRequest* request =
       // Using the RemoteSystem above, [self.discoveredSystems addObject:remoteSystem];
      [[CDRemoteSystemConnectionRequest alloc] initWithRemoteSystem:system];

NSString* url = @”http://www.bing.com”;

  [CDRemoteLauncher
           launchUri:uri
           withRequest:request
           withCompletion:^(CDRemoteLauncherUriStatus status) {
            // Update UI on launch status
            }];

Voila! Paul has easily augmented his app with cross-device support for iOS.

Wrapping up

Project Rome breaks down barriers by changing notions about what an “app” is and focusing on the user no matter where they are working or what device they are using. An app no longer necessarily means something that is tied to a given device, instead it can be something that exists between your devices and is optimized for the right device at the right time. Today, Project Rome works on Windows 10, Android and iOS. Stay tuned to see what comes next.

To learn more about Project Rome, check out the links below.

Windows Store: more options to manage, monetize and promote apps

At Build 2017 last week, the Windows Store announced new capabilities to reach more customers, improve your productivity and promote and monetize your apps and games, including:

  • Offering your games to Xbox One users
  • Updating your Store listings faster via import/export
  • Releasing new games or apps using private beta, targeting a limited audience
  • Navigating Dev Center faster through an updated dashboard experience
  • Enabling more users to acquire apps via one-click download with no Microsoft account login
  • Offering more engaging Store listings with video trailers
  • Monetizing via recurring billing using in-app purchase subscriptions
  • Offering discounts only to some user segments, or only to users of your other apps or games
  • Analyzing your app performance more effectively, through funnel analysis and crash analytics
  • Earning more revenue from ads through more advertising formats

To learn more, I recommend viewing the Build session Windows Store: manage and promote apps your way (B8098), and reading this blog post.

More opportunity for your apps and games

Your UWP apps and games can run on any Windows 10 device, so you can reach out to hundreds of millions of users with a single app. The Store helps you grow that opportunity, reach more customers, acquire new users and increase the revenue for those users with several new capabilities. View the Build 2017 session Tips and Tricks for Successful Store Apps (B8102) to learn how to best use these new capabilities.

Increase your revenue through in-app advertising (New). Advertising is one of the primary monetization models for many publishers, and the Store now offers several new ad experiences that bring better yield and higher fill rates for ads in UWP apps: interstitial banner ads, playable ads and native ads (beta), in addition to the existing banner and video ads. To learn more, view Build session A quick lap around Microsoft Monetization Platform (P4112).

Example of a playable ad running in a UWP game

Promote your apps, and drive re-engagement using ad campaigns (New). Dev Center offers the ability to acquire new users in several ways: promotional codes, targeted offers and ad campaigns. Creating an ad campaign requires few clicks, and now supports interstitial banner, native and playable ads (beta). These ad campaigns are shown to users on other apps, as well as on Microsoft properties such as MSN.com, Skype and Outlook. To learn more, view the Build session User acquisition through Ads (session P4154).

Acquire more customers through one-click download, and buy Xbox games on PC (New). The Store has enabled faster and simpler app acquisition by letting customers acquire free apps or games (with age rating 13-year old or lower) with one click, without requiring the user to sign in with their Microsoft account. In addition to this change, customers can now purchase Xbox games directly from the PC Store. These new options help grow the number of users that download your app or game.

Distribute UWP games on Xbox One, engaging with hundreds of millions of Xbox One users and more than 50 million Xbox Live accounts (Coming soon). Dev Center already allows any developer to publish apps not categorized as games to Xbox One. Developers can now join the new Xbox Live Creators Program to submit games to Xbox One, with fast certification, no cost and no friction. You can start developing and testing your Xbox Live enabled games today, and you’ll be able to publish games for Xbox One in summer. View the Xbox Live Creators Program build session (P4159) to learn more.

Offer in-app purchase subscriptions (Coming soon). Apps can be configured to include in-app subscriptions, i.e. selling services in-app that charge periodically (1/3/6/12/24-month renewal periods), with or without a free trial. In-app subscription capability is currently in preview, being tested by a few publishers and will be available to all developers this summer. Follow the Building apps for Windows blog for more announcements.

In addition to these features, remember that you can offer your app or game to businesses or education institutions through the Microsoft Store for Business that offers a redesigned private Store experience for companies. You can also take your existing Win32 app or game and offer it through the Windows Store using the Desktop Bridge.

Dev Center experience redesign

More modern and efficient dashboard experience (Dev Center Insiders). The Dev Center dashboard has been redesigned based on your feedback to help you be more productive. The new dashboard integrates with Office, Cortana and Groove programs. It has a clean new interface, beautiful analytics, new account-level pages, integrated app picker and streamlined program switching.  These are a few of the things that make the new dashboard more useful, particularly for accounts with multiple apps, games or programs. Try it out today by joining the Dev Center Insider Program.

Startup guide for the new dashboard experience

Invite users outside of your organization to collaborate on your apps and games (New). We now support inviting users outside your company to contribute to the projects in your account. This makes collaboration and partnerships across companies and users easier than ever. Your account users are governed by the same roles and permissions that you apply to users in your AAD tenant, ensuring that you remain in full control.


Reaching more customers

To help customers find your app or game, and then increase the probability they will download it, the Store has added new search filters, and ways to make your store listing more engaging, and ways to update your Store listings in bulk, streamlining the update in multiple languages.

Help customers find your apps or games with new search capabilities (Rollout starting). Starting today, we’re rolling out the option to indicate if your app uses Cortana, Ink or Continuum, or if your games offer mixed reality, 4K, HDR, multi-player, co-op, or shared split screen. Indicate in the Properties page of your submission if it supports these capabilities, and this summer customers will be able to filter their searches to show only apps or games that support the capabilities they are looking for.

Search filters that will show up in the Store later in the summer

Create more engaging Store listings with video trailers (Rollout starting). Many of you have told us that video trailers are one of the best ways to attract customers. After piloting the feature earlier this year, today we’re beginning to roll out the ability to upload trailers to use in your Store listing, and all accounts should have access within a few months. We’ve made a few other updates to the types of images you can provide for a great Store listing, including 4K high-resolution assets.

Create and update Store listings faster with Import/Export (Coming soon). Creating and updating Store listings takes many clicks per language and can take hours for a submission with listings in many languages. Dev Center allows you to import and export your listings, so you can make changes offline in bulk and then upload all your listing details at once, rather than having to manually input each string and image for each language. We’ll be rolling this feature out to all accounts over the next few months.

Submission page showing progress using import/export Store listings

Planning your release

Once you have created your app submission and designed an engaging Store listing, you’ll have to plan the release. The Store supports several visibility options, including a release only accessible through promotional codes, a public but not searchable release (hidden), public release or flighting different packages of your published app to specific groups of people. Flighting is widely used, with more than 30,000 package flights created so far. We’re adding additional options to let you release private betas, and to schedule a release very precisely.

Release a submission at a precise date and time (Rollout starting). Dev Center previously let you define when a submission would start to be published, but didn’t let you know exactly when the submission would be live. You can now specific a precise date and time, in UTC or local time, during your submission. We are beginning to roll out the new Schedule options today, and all accounts should have access within a few months.

Offer a private beta (Coming soon). Soon you’ll be able to publish a new app or game that is only visible to people in a specific group that you define; anyone who’s not in your beta group won’t be able to see the Store listing page or download the product. This feature is being used by selected preview apps, and we will be releasing this feature to all developers within the next few months.

Remember that you can also use the Store service APIs to streamline your app management. There are APIs to submit and release apps, games and add-ons, manage package flights, access analytics information, read and respond to reviews and run ad campaigns.

Optimizing pricing and configuring deals and sales

Once your apps and games are published to the Store, you may want to adjust your app or add-on price, grow your customer engagement or offer sales to attract more customers.

Create new types of customer segments (New). Several features in Dev Center support segments, including sales, targeted offers, notifications and analytics. You can now create segments by market breakdown, purchase amount and if a user has rated the app or not. Coming soon, you’ll be able to use a predictive churn model to create segments of users who are predicted to stop using your app (churn), so you can take a preventive approach.

Show content or pricing targeted to a specific segment (New). The new targeted offers feature lets you target specific segments of your customers with attractive, personalized content inside the app to increase engagement, retention and monetization. An example is discounting certain in-app products for customers who are first time payers. For more info and a demo of how to use this feature, view the Build session Maximizing user engagement with customized app content (P4116), or read more.

Control your price more precisely and schedule changes (Rollout starting). You can precisely schedule price changes for customers on Windows 10 over time, using the currency that makes sense to you, to occur globally or for specific markets. Rollout of this feature starts today and will finish within a few months.

Increase customer acquisition and engagement with more flexible sale pricing (Rollout starting). We’ve added more options to sale pricing to let you configure discounts by percentage (e.g. 40% off), offer discounts to customers that own one of your other apps (such as “50% off if you own this other game”), target a discount to a segment of users (e.g. offer discount to users that have not rated the game) and even use a new segment of customers that have never purchased anything in the Store. When a customer makes their first purchase, we’ve found that they typically continue to purchase more items in that initial app or game, as well as in other products in the Store. Rollout of advanced sale pricing starts today, and all accounts should have access to these features by summer. Note that when you offer a discount to a segment of your customers, you can also use our targeted notifications feature to alert those customers about the discount. Watch the Build 2017 session Maximizing revenue through advanced pricing, sales and scheduling (P4116) to learn more.

Dev Center configuration 

How sale pricing appears in the Store

View all possible price tiers in Excel (Rollout starting). While adjusting prices, many of you have asked to be able to have an easier way to view the price tiers in all the currencies. The Pricing and availability page now offers the option to download the price table in .csv (editable in Excel). Rollout starts today, and all accounts should have access to download the price table in a few months.

Improving analysis

Once your app is published and live, you’ll want to analyze its performance, to help adjust your listing or app to improve acquisitions, satisfaction or engagement. Our new analytics capabilities let you analyze multiple apps more effectively, identify areas of improvement in the conversion funnel, improve debugging and in general find patterns and trends to improve your app.

View analytics for multiple apps, using a modern design (Dev Center Insiders). Along with the release of the new dashboard experience, we have refreshed and enhanced our analytics features to bring you better insights. The new Analytics Overview quickly summarizes key reports like Acquisitions, Usage, Installs and Health, and you can select up to 5 apps to view at one time. You can get an early look at this new design by joining the Dev Center Insider Program.

Analyze your customer conversion funnel (Dev Center Insiders). The acquisition funnel shows the total number of customers that complete each stage of the funnel—from viewing the Store page to using the app, along with conversion rate. You can filter by customer demographics and custom campaigns to compare campaign effectiveness. The report is for Windows 10 customers over the last 90 days, and Page views also includes views from people who are not signed in with a Microsoft account. Try it out now by joining the Dev Center Insider Program.

Automatically receive alerts when there are anomalies in acquisition trends (Dev Center Insiders). It’s often easy to miss significant changes. To help you monitor data changes, you’ll get an email alerting you when we detect a significant trend change with your acquisitions. We’ll also include your app’s average rating for the last 10 days so you can see if they’ve been impacted. You can then use the Health and other reports to identify urgent fixes to address, or you can respond to reviews to help drive your ratings back up. To receive these emails now, join the Dev Center Insider Program.

Debug your apps more effectively Analyzing crashes and debugging apps is critical for improving the performance and quality of your apps and games. Today, the Health report lets you pinpoint which OS and app version configurations generate the most crashes, and link to failure details with individual stack traces.  This summer we’ll roll out the ability to download CAB files for crashes that occur on devices that participate in the Windows Insider program.

Understand usage and analyze by cohorts (Coming soon). The Usage report helps you understand how often and how long users are using an app, and measures interactive engagement time across active users and active devices, using industry-standard DAU/MAU metrics and retention. The report will soon include cohort analytics to help you understand usage drop-off over time. Join the Dev Center Insider program to be ready to use this analysis when it rolls out to all accounts within the next few months.

What comes next?

We hope you’ll take advantage of these resources and learn more about the capabilities described in this blog by doing the following:

Keep giving us feedback to help us prioritize features and updates. Use the feedback link in Dev Center, which you’ll now find in the upper right of the dashboard (if you’re using the new dashboard experience as part of the Dev Center Insider Program).

Cortana Skills Kit empowers developers to build intelligent experiences for millions of users

Today, we are pleased to announce the public preview of the Cortana Skills Kit which allows developers to easily create intelligent, personalized experiences for Cortana.

Our vision for Cortana has always been to create a digital personal assistant that’s available to users across all their devices, whenever and wherever they may need an extra hand to be more productive and get things done. With the new Cortana Skills Kit, developers can join in delivering that vision and reach millions of Cortana users across platforms including Windows 10, Android, iOS and soon on even more devices and form factors — like Xbox, the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker and inside cars and mixed reality devices.

To build a Cortana skill, developers can create their bot’s conversational logic using the Microsoft Bot Framework, and publish it to the new Cortana Channel within the Bot Framework, bringing speech capabilities to skills. Developers can understand users’ natural input and build custom machine-learned language models through LUIS.ai, and add intelligence with the power of Cognitive Services.

Cortana has rich knowledge and understanding about the user with the Skills Kit. Developers can now access knowledge about the user and build highly-relevant, personalized experiences based on the user’s preferences and context. Cortana only shares information with the user’s consent.

We realize that we are at the dawn of building conversational experiences for end users. Developers want to reach a large and diverse set of users to understand user needs and behaviors. There are over 145M monthly active users of Cortana worldwide. With the Cortana Skills Kit, developers can immediately reach the 60M users in the US and grow their international reach in the future*. To start building skills today, please visit https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/Cortana.

We are also excited to announce a wide range of partners who have joined us on this journey and are building Cortana skills. Cortana users will be able to access skills from OpenTable, Expedia, Capital One, StubHub,  Food Network, HP, iHeartRadio, Stubhub, Dominos, TuneIn, Uber, CapitalOne, Knowmail, MovieTickets.com, Tact, Skyscanner, Fresh Digital, Gigskr, Gupshup, The Motley Fool, Mybuddy, Patron, Porch, Razorfish, StarFish Mint, Talklocal, UPS, WebMD, Pylon, BigOven, CityFalcon, DarkSky, Elokence, BLT Robotics, Wed Guild, AI Games, XAPP Media,  GameOn, MegaSuperWeb, Verge and Vokkal.co.

To learn more and discover the currently available skills visit: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/cortana/cortana-skills/

*Available in US only. Other markets will be added over time.