Tag Archives: Dev Center

Windows Store: video trailers, improved Store listings, advanced sales, and other new capabilities

At Build 2017, the Windows Store announced the initial availability of several features. Today, I want to share with you that all accounts have access to these features:

  • More ways to promote your apps and drive user acquisition
  • More ways to manage schedules, prices and sales
  • Debug your apps more effectively by using CAB files
  • Use Dev Center through a modern and efficient dashboard experience

Important: If you have a submission in progress, publish it (or delete it) and your next submission will show these new pricing, sales and store listing options. Also, if you use the Windows Store submission API, be sure to read the info at the bottom of this post.

More ways to promote your apps and drive user acquisition

Many of you told us that video trailers are one of the best ways to attract customers. You can now upload up to 15 trailers to use in your Store listing. When using trailers, make sure to also include the 1920 x 1080 pixel image (16:9) in the promotional images section, which shows up after the video stops playing. Feedback from other developers using videos has been very positive, try them out!

Video trailer as shown in the Store – see it in action here on a Windows 10 PC

Creating and updating Store listings used to take many steps per language and could take hours for a submission with listings in many languages. You can now update all Store listing content (description, images, keywords, etc.), by importing and exporting your listings, reducing the update time to just a few minutes.

Export and import of store listings – Submission overview page

More ways to manage prices and sales

 When a customer makes their first purchase, we’ve found that they typically continue to purchase more add-ons in that initial app or game, as well as in other products in the Store. The new pricing and availability page gives you additional options to drive users to that first purchase:

Schedule when your app or game will be visible (as long as the submission happens with enough time to process—we recommend at least three days in advance). You have the option to specify the schedule when your app should become available and discoverable in the Store, as well as a date when it should no longer be available for new acquisitions.

 Schedule availability – pricing and availability page

Schedule price changes in advance. For example, change the base price a month after the app has been published.

Schedule price changes – pricing and availability page

There are many more options to configure sales, including using percentage values (such as “30% off”), viewing sales options in the currency that makes sense to you, configuring sales globally or for specific markets, offering discounts to customers that own one of your other apps (for example “50% off if you own this other game”) and the ability to target a discount to a segment of customers (such as those that have not made any Store purchases so far).

Sales drive purchases, so try them out!

Configure sales – Pricing and availability page

How sales show up in the Store

We also heard that you wanted a more efficient way to understand all prices, for all markets. You can now view all possible price tiers in Excel. Go to the Pricing and availability page, select view table, and you can view and export the table to CSV.

Viewing all price tiers – Pricing and availability page

Use Dev Center through a modern and efficient dashboard experience

The Dev Center dashboard has been redesigned based on your feedback to help you be more productive. 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.

Dev Center redesign

Debug your apps more effectively by using CAB files

 We heard a lot of feedback on having access to CAB files to help debugging apps, and improve the quality and performance of your apps and games. The Health report lets you pinpoint which OS and app version configurations generate the most crashes, and provides links to failure details with individual CAB files. These CAB files are only available for customers running any of the Windows Insider flights of Windows 10 (slow or fast), so not all failures will include the CAB download option. 

Access to failure downloads – health analytics page

Implications of these changes if you are using the Windows Store submission API

If you use the Windows Store submission API to manage your apps and games, please be aware of the following:

  • If you manage prices using the Submission API, you’ll have to use new price tiers. To do that, manually update your app or game once, so you can view the new price tiers, accept them, and then update your Submission API code to use these new price tier values, which can be found in the price table on the pricing and availability page in Dev Center, as described above.
  • The Windows Store submission API does not support all the new Store listing capabilities You can add the new assets using the Dev Center dashboard, and the submission API will be updated later in July to let you manage these new assets through the API. More details about the upcoming API capabilities, including trailers and game options, can be found.
  • If you use the StoreBroker PowerShell module to simplify using the Windows Store submission API, you can keep using it to manage the same listing asset types you are managing today. However, you won’t be able to upload the new asset types using StoreBroker until the StoreBroker team publishes an update in a few more weeks, and you pick up that update.

Read this previous blog post to learn about all the recently added Store features, and try all the features that are live today. If you have any issues finding or using these features, please let us know using the feedback link in Dev Center (upper right of the dashboard).

Monetizing your app: Set your COPPA settings for your app

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits operators of commercial websites and online services (including mobile apps) from targeting children below the age of 13 using targeted ads. The Dev Center provides an option for an app developer to specify whether an app or ad unit is targeted to children.

We reminded our developer community back in 2015 to set their application COPPA settings, but several developers have not set their COPPA settings correctly. Doing so greatly affects the revenue that a developer can earn on apps that are not targeted to children under the age of 13.

If a developer selects the COPPA compliance option that his app is directed at children under 13, Microsoft will disable its behavioral advertising services when delivering advertising to the app. If a developer’s app is directed at children under the age of 13, he or she must select this option in “Monetize with ads” under the Monetization section in Dev Center for that specific application.

However, if your app does not target children under 13, then targeted ads are a great way to monetize, so make sure you select the right COPPA setting depending on your app’s content and target audience.

Note that developers may have other legal obligations under COPPA. You should review the FTC’s guidance and consult with your legal counsel regarding COPPA obligations.

Stay tuned for additional tips to increase ad monetization!

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).

A complete user acquisition & engagement platform

With so many apps getting published to the Windows Store daily, it can be a challenge to attract and acquire new customers. Successful developers use various channels to spread the word about their apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, popular blogs or Windows Dev Center’s own “Promote your app” feature. We’ve grown this solution over the past two and a half years, evolving it into a complete platform with machine-learning algorithms to maximize user acquisition and engagement campaign ROI.

Major milestones during the user acquisition & engagement platform journey

Our platform now lets you use objective-driven ad campaigns, where you can choose to acquire more customers or re-engage with your existing customers. With the recent launch of Universal campaigns, your app can get in front of customers interacting with Microsoft premium surfaces such as MSN, Outlook, Skype, Microsoft solitaire collection, etc.

The Dev Center user acquisition and engagement platform capabilities are tailored to meet the needs of every developer. You can start with zero dollars using community ad campaigns to advertise your app for free in other apps (in exchange for showing ads for other apps in yours).

You can also promote one of your apps in your other apps using house ad campaigns – again, for free. Even more effective are our paid ad campaigns, with a great return on investment for both app install and app re-engagement campaigns.

In addition, we have recently released our APIs so that you can use the campaign creation/update and reporting information with your organization’s built-in tools.

Universal user acquisition & engagement platform

Finally, for developers interested in running larger ad campaigns, we provide extra support with additional features:

  • $50,000 per campaign limit instead of the regular $5,000
  • Higher thresholds for billing campaigns
  • 1:1 product management team support to help tune your campaigns
  • Third-party tracking SDK support
  • Custom campaign dates
  • Custom user segment generation for huge volume goals

For info about qualifying for these features, reach us at [email protected].

Whether you’re a developer just starting your journey with the Windows app ecosystem or a top developer looking to find users for your next hit title, the Dev Center user acquisition and engagement platform can help you reach more customers and grow your success.

How do I get started?

If you haven’t already used the app promotion capability, follow these steps to create a new ad campaign:

  • Click on the “Dashboard” after your log in to your Windows Dev Center account.
  • Click on the “Promotions” tab under the Main menu.
  • Click on “New Campaign” to create a new user acquisition or user engagement campaign.

Check out the documentation for more details, then give it a try! If you’ve got suggestions to make these features even more useful, please let us know at Windows Developer Feedback.

New Ad Performance and App Promotion Performance Reporting in Windows Store Analytics API

The team in charge of the Windows Store and Dev Center tools is constantly working to make your dev life simpler. Take the release of the Windows Store analytics API in March as an example — they hear your feedback and work to make sure our features are top notch and as up-to-date as possible.

Now, the team has enabled two new features that will simplify reporting even further: the Windows Store Analytics API set for both Advertising Performance Reporting and App Promotion Performance Reporting.

These API methods have long been a top request, and we are excited to have them ready and available for you and your team to use right now!

As with the original analytics API, these new methods provide the information you once had to navigate in a dashboard via a simple REST method. These methods simplify information retrieval, so you no longer need to log into the Dev Center Advertising Performance Reports and the App Promotion Campaign Performance Reports for every piece of information. And the data can now be assessed with your favorite analytics tools – from Microsoft Excel to Power BI.

With unprecedented analytics access right at your fingertips you can retrieve data, collate it and format it to best suit your needs. This enables easier assessment of trends and improved ability to analyze your apps and campaigns’ performance over time (and in comparison to other apps and campaigns).

Several top Windows and Windows Mobile developers have already started using these methods to better integrate the data from the Windows Store into their internal reporting frameworks. “The Dev Center reporting API was easy to integrate and lets us access all of our earnings and campaign reporting in one place,” said Jake Poznanski, co-founder of Random Salad Games, which tracks over 90 apps for its publisher-partners using the Dev Center API and PowerBI. “The reporting API is indispensable if you are a serious publisher on the Windows platform.”

They are finding them extremely useful and vital to their planning and lifecycle management. We hope that you will too!

Get started with the Windows Store Analytics API here, and check out the new Ads performance reporting and Ad campaign performance reporting API – then let us know what you think!

Extend your reach with offline licensing in Windows Store for Business

Windows Store for Business was launched in November 2015 to extend opportunities for developers to offer their apps in volume to business and education organizations running Windows 10. Developers can enable organizations to license and distribute their apps with these two licensing and distribution types (also described on MSDN):

  1. Store-managed (online) is your default option, in which the Store service installs your app and issues entitlements for every user in the organization who installs the app.
  1. Organization-managed (offline) is an optional additional choice, in which the organization can download your app binary with proper entitlements, distribute the apps using their own management tools and keep track of the number of licenses used.

The organization-managed (offline) option broadens the distribution flexibility for organizations, and can extend your opportunity to increase usage of your apps and revenue of your paid apps. This option gives organizations more control over distribution of apps within the organization – including preloading apps to Windows 10 devices, distribution to devices never or rarely connected to the internet or distributing via private intranet networks. Typical organizations asking for organization-managed (offline) apps include multinational manufacturers, city departments and the largest school districts with tens of thousands of devices.

Developers have already enabled many apps for organization-managed (offline) licensing and distribution in Store for Business. Examples include many Microsoft apps like Office Mobile, OneDrive, Mail, Calendar and Fresh Paint—plus apps from other developers such as Twitter, TeamViewer, JT2Go from Siemens, Corinth’s Classroom app collection and many others. Thank you, developers!

Enable offline licensing today

Enabling Organization-managed (offline) licensing today can help more organizations acquire your apps and deploy them to their users.

image1

  1. Log in to your Windows Dev Center dashboard.
  2. Open the app you would like to enable for offline licensing and create a new submission.
  3. In Pricing and availability, go to the Organizational licensing.
  4. Make sure the box for Make my app available to organizations with Store-managed (online) volume licensing is checked.
  5. Also check the box for Allow organization-managed (offline) licensing and distribution for organizations.
  6. Make any other desired changes to your submission, then submit the app to the Store.

Frequently asked questions

Does organization-managed (offline) licensing and distribution mean more work for developers? No—all you have to do is select a checkbox during submission in Dev Center, as shown above.

How do app updates work for organization-managed (offline) apps? Apps distributed with offline licensing will work on a user’s device just like any other Store apps, and will be updated by default when the device is connected to the internet with the latest version of your app. Organizations also may choose to manage app updates with management tools if desired.

Are both free and paid organization-managed (offline) apps supported? Yes, organization-managed (offline) licensing and distribution works for both free and paid apps (in developer markets that support paid apps in Windows Store for Business).

How can organizations purchase organization-managed (offline) apps? Organizations wishing to acquire offline paid apps need to pass additional credit validation by Microsoft. All app binaries (both free and paid) distributed for offline licensing are watermarked with the ID of the organization that acquired your app.

Resources

Create a Dev Center account if you don’t have one!

The Windows team would love to hear your feedback.  Please keep the feedback coming using our Windows Developer UserVoice site. If you have a direct bug, please use the Windows Feedback tool built directly into Windows 10.

New Dev Center Capabilities

Dev Center continuously adds more options to enable you to monetize and promote your apps and games, and to streamline new submissions or analyze app performance.

This month, Dev Center adds new capabilities that further this vision, including:

  • Submit apps and games to Xbox One
  • Reduce the risk of a new app release with gradual package rollout
  • Communicate optional and required hardware preferences
  • Ensure customers have an ideal experience with your app or game through mandatory updates
  • Simplify cross-device development with Storemanaged consumables
  • Streamline app management with the Submission API and simplified device family targeting
  • Enhance your business analysis through improved reports: lifetime add-on acquisitions, an enhanced Feedback report and the new Real time report
  • Work faster in Dev Center using the new dashboard view

1. Enabling your apps and games to be offered to Xbox One customers

New – submit UWP apps and games to Xbox One: Dev Center has accepted submissions built using the Windows 10 Anniversary Update SDK build 14393 since earlier in August. Starting today, you can offer your apps built using this latest SDK to customers on Xbox One. To target your app to Xbox, select “Windows 10 Xbox” in the device family availability section of the Packages page of your submission, as described in the simplified device family targeting announcement below.

Game submissions targeting Xbox One require concept approval in order to successfully submit and publish onto the Xbox. This ensures games on Xbox deliver the experiences our players expect. If you would like to offer your UWP game to customers on Xbox One, please visit [email protected] to join the [email protected] Program, or reach out to the [email protected] account management team if you are already in the program.

2. Optimizing submission and new ways to test apps

New – dashboard redesign: The new design provides fast, easy access to the most frequently used dashboard actions and gives you quick access to the developer programs you are engaged with. You can quickly jump to edit the app by selecting the value you want to modify. You’ll see notifications (targeted messages to alert you to key actions) and personalized suggestions that include info about new Dev Center features.

New – gradual package rollout: Starting today Dev Center supports gradual package rollout to let you offer a package update only to a percentage of your customers. You can increase this percentage as your confidence in the update increases on the app’s Overview page. Once you have confidence in the update, the gradual rollout can be finalized to make this package available to all devices, or halted if there are issues with the package and you want to stop distributing it and then replace it with a subsequent update. Gradual rollout works for both package flights and for non-flighted submissions, for customers running Windows.Desktop build 10586 or later, Windows.Mobile build 10586.63 or later, and Xbox One. You can enable gradual rollout on the Packages page of your submission:

IMAGE1

New – package flighting available for Xbox: Starting today, package flighting will also work for apps and games that target Xbox One. Please remind your Xbox test customers that they have to manually check for updates in the Store to get the latest flights, by signing into their Xbox One using their Microsoft account.

New – submission API: You can automate and streamline your submissions by using the new Windows Store submission API, which allows you to update apps/games, add-ons (in-app purchases), and package flights through a REST API. This feature is being enabled to developers in waves, and you’ll receive an email as your account is enabled. If you want to request earlier access, use the Feedback option at the bottom right of the Dev Center dashboard and select Submission API for the feedback area. The API only supports Dev Center features available prior to August, and does not yet support submissions that use new features such as targeting UWP apps for Xbox One and Store-managed consumables. Read the API documentation and samples or use the open source Submission API VSTS extension, available in GitHub, to get started.

New – mandatory update: You can configure your UWP app to require an app update; for example, this is frequently used in multi-player online games to ensure customers have the latest version before they run the game. To use this feature, add code to your app to check for the presence of a mandatory update, ideally when you first submit the app. Then whenever you submit an update, you can indicate in Dev Center that the update is mandatory and on what day it becomes mandatory. When your app determines that a mandatory update is available, it can then take the appropriate action (for example, asking the customer to update, or allowing offline playing only until the game has been updated). To learn more about this feature, read the docs here. This feature requires the Windows 10 SDK version 14393, and customers must be running Windows 10, version 1607 to run an app or game that uses this feature.

New – table with prices for all tiers: When creating a submission, in Markets and custom prices, Dev Center now includes a table with all the currencies and their prices, enabling you to understand the pricing across markets and to help optimize the price for your app, game or add-on.

Updated – simplified device family targeting: Dev Center now offers a tabular view that shows you how your app packages will be offered to customers on any supported device family. You can continue to select the Windows 10 device families on which you want to offer your app. Device family targeting is available on the packages page.

IMAGE2

Updated – simplified and enhanced system requirements (previously “hardware preferences”): Hardware preferences were previously set in both the app manifest as well as in Dev Center, which could be confusing. Starting today Dev Center offers:

  • A single way to define the hardware requirements, in the System requirements section of the App properties page of a submission
  • More options: RAM*, DirectX* version, VRAM (video memory), and free text fields
  • Allows you to specify both minimum as well as recommended hardware requirements
  • Requirements will appear in the app’s Store listing for customers on Windows 10
  • Apps can be installed even if the device does not meet the minimum requirements, but customers may see a warning (depending on their version of Windows and the specific requirements you provided) and may not submit ratings or reviews.
  • You can also provide your own Additional system requirements when creating your app’s Store listing; the Minimum and Recommended requirements you enter will be displayed to customers when viewing your listing

* The existing options to declare RAM and DirectX specs in the package manifest are still supported and are considered first before the Dev Center settings. Going forward we recommend using the Dev Center settings, as this provides more flexibility and agility when updating your apps.

Updated – experimentation (A/B testing): this feature, available since earlier in the year, allows you to run experiments in your app and determine which option achieves the best results based on user behavior. Starting this month, A/B testing has an updated UI to improve the experimentation experience, run multi-variant tests and track results in real time. To learn more about this feature, read the docs here.

Updated – submissions cannot change the category to Games (or from Games): If you publish an app in the Games category, you won’t be able to pick a different category in a new submission. You also can’t choose the Games category for an app that you previously published in a different category. You can continue to change the category for apps that weren’t ever published in the Games category, and you can change the sub-category within apps or games.

3. Adding more options to monetize and promote your apps

New – Store-managed consumables add-on (in-app product): Dev Center now allows you to configure Store-managed consumable add-ons, available for apps that target Windows 10, version 1607 or higher. Microsoft keeps track of the balances of Store-managed consumables across devices, minimizing the amount of tracking and coding you have to do to know how many consumables are available to the user. Store managed-consumables are a better option than the already available developer-managed consumable add-on if the app runs online most of the time, if your app can run on many devices, or if you want to keep track of a customer balance automatically.

New – company name different than display name: The legal company name no longer has to be the same as the publisher display name used in the Store. Note that if you change your publisher display name your account will undergo an additional review, and you’ll need to re-package and re-submit your apps with the new name.

Updated – new Store SDK name: the SDK used to manage all the Store capabilities, previously named Monetization Store Engagement and Monetization SDK, is now called the Microsoft Store Services SDK to reflect the growing set of Store capabilities included in the SDK. The SDK includes all the monetization and ads-in-apps capabilities, and is available for Windows 10/UWP apps. This update removes the ad mediation service. Read more about the SDK, and download it now.

Updated – new capabilities for promotional codes: these codes are used to let any user acquire one of your apps or add-ons at no cost, typically used to promote your app or give your app away to testers. Dev Center now allows you to create more codes, up to 500 per app or add-on every six months, and the offers codes can be used multiple times (ideal for social media), and can be configured to have a future validity start date.

Updated – simplified management of multi users and permissions: Dev Center allows you to create and manage multiple users with their permissions by setting up your Azure Active Directory, at no cost, directly in the Dev Center dashboard.

Updated – single registration for many developer programs: Dev Center registration is now the place to onboard as a developer for Windows, Azure and Office. Payment account and tax information is shared between all these developer programs, including Microsoft advertising payouts.

Updated – improvements in payout notifications: Dev Center sends email notifications when you are paid, and the payout reports now shows ad revenue as one of the revenue sources for the app.

Updated – “add-on” is the new name for in-app product (IAP): Dev Center is renaming all references to in-app product (IAP) to add-ons.

Updated – improvements on Store listing page and app version ratings: The Store now offers more options to view ratings and reviews. By default the Store shows ratings for your latest app version, and now offers a new filter to view ratings from the last 30 days as well as lifetime app ratings. The updated design also shows more information to customers, including system requirements, friends who also play this game, broadcasts, game clips and it offers the option to choose the drive where the app or game will be installed.

Updated – more intelligent auto-suggestions in the Store: The Store’s automatically-generated search suggestions provide more useful recommendations by showing the most appropriate content first, either app, game, music or TV/video:

IMAGE3

Insiders – bulk add-on update: Dev Center allows you to more easily manage apps with a large number of add-ons, and reduce the number of errors when updating them through the new capability to export, modify and then import all the add-ons. This feature is only available for Dev Center Insiders, so sign up if you want to try it out. 

4. Providing more detailed and up-to date analytics

 New – add-on lifetime reporting: new report filter that allows you to see the lifetime number of acquisitions for your add-ons. This shows the cumulative total of all acquisitions, starting from when your add-on was first published.

Updated – Dev Center app improvements: the UWP app allows you to view your app analytics directly from your Windows 10 PC, tablet or phone. The app now supports the ability to pin individual apps, view payout information and sort your apps.

Updated – Feedback report: this feature allows you to collect customer feedback directly in your app when users simply click on a link in the app to launch Feedback Hub. The feedback, votes and comments will show up in the Feedback report in Dev Center. From the report, you can directly respond to your customers. Learn how to launch the Feedback Hub directly from your app.

Insiders – customer segmentation and targeted notifications: with this feature, available to Dev Center Insiders only, you can create and schedule custom notifications to send to your app’s customers. You can send notifications to all of them or to selected segments that meet the criteria you define like demographics, usage metrics and purchase status. Customer segments and notifications can be used to encourage desired actions (like buying something), or for loyalty and retention campaigns, maximizing cross- and up-sell opportunities, identifying product differentiation strategies and discovering what each segment finds most valuable. Read the announcement blog for more details.

Insiders – real-time reporting: Dev Center offers a new report to view your app data in real-time, with a delay of a few hours or less. In Dev Center, choose Real time report in the left menu under Analytics, and select the time range (from the last 7 days and up to the last hour of data on a per minute basis), to see a more dynamic picture of your acquisitions and add-ons. This report includes only data from users running Windows 10 and is available for Dev Center insiders, so sign up to try it out.

In addition to these enhancements, earlier this month Dev Center updated the App Developer Agreement (change log) and Windows Store Policies (change log) to support the new Dev Center capabilities and expansion of Store features.

As you begin to use these new capabilities, please let us know your feedback and experience through the “Feedback” button in Dev Center (found in the bottom right of each page) or vote for new features in the Windows Platform UserVoice for Dev Center. Your feedback helps us identify areas of future focus.

Customer segmentation and push notifications: a new Windows Dev Center Insider Program feature

We’re excited to announce that we’ve added a new customer segmentation and push notifications feature to the Windows Dev Center Insider Program. To try it out, you’ll need to join the Dev Center Insider Program if you haven’t done so already. Then, get started with an overview video to see detailed steps on how to create segments and push notifications. With this feature, you can quickly create custom notifications to send to your app’s customers—all of them, or to only a selected segment that meets the criteria you define, like demographics and purchase status. Customer segments and notifications can be used to encourage desired actions (like buying something) or for loyalty and retention campaigns, maximizing cross and up-sell opportunities, identifying product differentiation strategies and discovering what each segment finds most valuable.

When defining a customer segment, you first select a specific app. Then you can create AND/OR queries that include or exclude customers based on attributes such as app acquisitions, acquisition source and demographic criteria, with options to refine further. You can also select criteria related to first time purchase status, total Store spend, and total spend within the app you’ve selected. Most of these attributes are calculated using all historical data, although there are some exceptions: App acquisition date, Campaign ID, Store page view date and Referrer URI domain are limited to the last 90 days of data. The segment will only include customers who have acquired your app on Windows 10; if you support older OS versions, downloads on those older OS versions will not be included in any segments you create.  You won’t be able to create customer segments that don’t meet a minimum size threshold, and only adult age groups are included in any customer segment.

To define a segment of your app’s customers:

  1. Click Customer groups from the left navigation pane of your Dev Center dashboard.
  2. Use a segment template or click Create new group.
  3. Choose your app and construct your own filter criteria.
  4. Click Run to apply your filters and see quick results.
  5. Save your segment for later use.

After you save a segment, it will become available to use for notifications after 24 hours. Segment results are refreshed daily, so you may see the total count of customers in a segment change from day to day as customers drop in or out of the segment criteria.

To send a custom notification to a segment of your app’s customers:

  1. Register your app to receive notifications.
  2. From your Dev Center dashboard, select your app.
  3. Click Services from the left navigation pane.
  4. Click Push notifications.
  5. Click New notification to create the notification.
  6. Define your notification and parameters.
  7. If you have not already created your segment as described above, click Create new customer group. If you have already created your segment, it will appear in the drop-down list (after 24 hours from the time you created the segment).
  8. Schedule the time to deliver the notification, and then click Save.

Please try it out and let us know what you think. What additional attributes would you like? What else would help? Please give us your feedback using the Feedback link at the bottom right corner of any page in Dev Center, or take our 2-minute survey.

Updates in Dev Center analytics

Through our developer forums and our Dev Center feedback channels, we receive a ton of great ideas about what you’d like the engineering teams to prioritize with regard to feature development. Many of these suggestions are related to analytics, and today we’re happy to announce a couple of updates that are a direct result of this feedback.

  1. Usage report updates

We’ve improved our Usage report to make usage data available to everyone with a published app in the Store. Previously, our usage report required the use of Visual Studio Application Insights. However, following some recent announcements, we have implemented new ways for you to understand how your app is being used by your customers. Please note that this report only includes usage data from customers on Windows 10.

The new Usage report provides info about user sessions and active users. You can also get a summary of the data by market and package version.

The Usage report also lets you get info on custom events which you instrument in your app by using the Microsoft Store Engagement and Monetization SDK.

Our approach for Usage reports is to have a core set of usage analytics available to everyone by default. For further usage reporting, consider integration with additional middleware solutions such as HockeyApp or one of our partner offerings.

  1. Life-to-date reporting

Recently we complemented our Acquisition reports with lifetime acquisition data, showing you the cumulative total acquisitions for your app. This has been a long-standing feature requested by many of you that we’re happy to be able to provide.

Our work isn’t complete here. We’re finalizing the lifetime reporting for in-app products, and we’re also planning to refresh the UWP Dev Center app to include this info. We’ll let you know when these updates are available.

We’d like to note that both of these updates are features that we first made available to participants in the Dev Center Insider Program. Developers who opted into the program got an early look at the updated reports and their feedback helped us make sure they were ready to release to all developers. If you haven’t opted in, take a look at some of the features currently included in the program and consider checking it out. You can opt out again at any time.

We’re continuing to work on some additional analytics features, and we’ll provide more updates in the coming months. If there’s a feature you’d like to see, leave a comment to let us know!

Download Visual Studio to get started.

Post written by Adrian Maziak, Principal Program Manager, Windows Dev Center

Improvements to the advertising performance reports in Dev Center

We’ve heard your feedback to upgrade the advertising performance reporting capabilities in Dev Center and have made a few platform updates to get there. Below are some of the improvements we’ve made, with more enhancements on the way.

What’s new?

  • Faster reporting– Better reporting performance in Dev Center.
  • Fresher reports – Data loads faster into Dev Center, so you should see your reports earlier.
  • Improved accuracy – New system implemented to detect and rapidly correct data discrepancies, so data is more accurate.
  • New reporting capabilities – New date range options, including custom date range and market wise ads performance data in download reports, so that you can better analyze performance data in Microsoft Excel.

What changes will you see?

  • View your improved ads performance reports by navigating to your Account Level Advertising Performance Report and your App Level Advertising Performance Report.
  • Load data into your Dev Center advertising performance reports much faster than before (now every four hours as long as upstream data feeds are available).
  • Use Custom date range filters, now available for your ads performance reports, to see ads performance data beyond the last 12 months.
  • See the current day’s in-progress data in your reports.
  • Analyze your ad performance data across different markets. To do this, select “Download report” on the advertising performance report page and then open the CSV (comma-separated values) file in Microsoft Excel or a similar program.

These enhancements have received positive feedback from pilot testers, but we are always looking for more. Try it out and let us know what you think on the Windows Developer Feedback site!

For more information about advertising performance reporting in Dev Center, see the Advertising Performance report page and download Visual Studio to get started!

Written by Shreyas Ganesh N, Program Manager, Developer Monetization, Windows Store.