In the Build opening keynote, Satya Nadella and Terry Myerson talked about our ambition to make Windows the home for all developers. In the last year we’ve moved from discussing what would be possible on Windows 10 to celebrating Windows 10 on more than 270 million devices – the fastest growth of any version of Windows – representing immense opportunity for the developer community.
We know that we need to invest to create a strong ecosystem and we are clear on your asks for increased reach and monetization opportunities, as well as increased productivity – with streamlined app management as a high priority. Last year we laid out a multi-year vision to make Dev Center an efficient place to submit, manage and monetize your Windows Store apps, and have been working to evolve it to simplify and consolidate the various Microsoft developer portals into one.
This week we are announcing another step in that direction, releasing new capabilities to increase promotion and monetization opportunities, while simplifying app submission and management including:
- New monetization options with Facebook Install Ads and payout enhancements
- Streamlined app submission and new ways to distribute apps and run betas
- More ways to engage and promote your apps
- New capabilities for getting customer feedback, analyzing app performance, and experimenting to improve your apps
- Ability to Preview Dev Center features through the Dev Center Insider Program
- Extend Universal Windows Platform (UWP) to Microsoft HoloLens
- And a new landing page for the dashboard: developer.microsoft.com/windows, setting the foundation for integration of additional Microsoft developer programs
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 influences the areas of future focus.
1. New Monetization Opportunities
Coming later this year Facebook ads: More than 1.59 billion people use Facebook to connect with what matters to them. With Facebook App Install Ads, you choose the type of people you want to reach enabling Facebook to deliver more relevant ads to acquire and engage your customers. With the Facebook Audience Network (FAN) SDK, you can monetize through Facebook ads in your Windows Store apps. Facebook is bringing both App Install Ads and FAN SDK to Windows developers later this year and we will share further details in a future blog post.
New Microsoft Store Engagement and Monetization SDK (Store SDK): The Store SDK integrates the capabilities of the Microsoft Advertising SDK with new store services to create a single unified SDK available to Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. Store services include app feedback and A/B testing, evolving to include additional features in future releases. The SDK is automatically updated in customer devices, ensuring customers always have the most up-to-date version. To take advantage of the new engagement features, just download and install the new Store SDK and update references in your code. If you’re using a previous version of the Microsoft Ad SDK, your current ad settings will automatically update – no need to make changes when you upgrade. Learn more. Build session: Monetize your app using Windows Store Monetization Platform.
Update Microsoft advertising: Ads can now be included in apps built on C#, C++, and VB, expanding your reach. If your app is using Windows ad mediation, you can select the ad ranking order in addition to percentages, enabling more control over which ads are shown in your apps in each market. Learn more. Build session: Monetize your app using Windows Store Monetization Platform.
New Microsoft Affiliate Program tools: If you promote Store apps, games, music or TV shows you can earn a commission on digital purchases from customers you refer into the Store — up to 7% for digital content and up to 10% on hardware. There are now four new tools to help you rapidly generate affiliate links including a link builder to manually create individual text, image, or badge links; an enterprise data feed; a top content data feed to automatically generate a list of the most popular content in the Store; and a group of pre-generated banners to promote top content and specific campaigns. Learn more or check out this Channel 9 video.
New affiliate ads: You can now earn revenue with affiliate ads. Once you opt-in, your app will automatically show affiliate ads when a paid app is not available. You will receive a commission when a customer clicks an affiliate ad in your app, then purchases any product in the Store. There’s no need to republish your app. Learn more. Build session: Monetize your app using Windows Store monetization platform.
Update Windows Store for Business: Launched in mid-November last year, this storefront is designed to enable organizations to find, acquire, manage and distribute Windows Store and private line-of-business apps, in volume, across Windows 10 devices. The market coverage has doubled since release, and is now available to organizations in over 45 markets today (free apps only in this release). Learn more. Build session: Windows Store for Business and TeamViewer.
New payout preferences and summary options: Beginning early April, Dev Center will allow you to place a hold on your payout with an On/Off toggle in Account Settings → Financial details. Financial reports will soon include additional filters, columns, and exporting capabilities for the payout summary. Learn more.
2. Streamlined app submission
New package flighting: This capability enables you to distribute different app package updates to specific groups of customers. Package flighting is particularly useful to test an alpha or beta version of an app with a limited number of customers, or to test an app update with a subset of customers prior to rolling it out to all. I recommend getting customer feedback using the new in-app feedback feature described below. Learn more. Build session: App flighting and beta testing in the Windows Store.
New simplified language submission: One of the top developer requests has been to separate the languages included in a package from the Store listing languages (screenshots and description). You are now only need to submit a Store listing and screenshot for one language in Dev Center, regardless of the number of languages in your app package. You can also add descriptions for languages that aren’t in any of your app’s packages. This lets you choose which languages make the most sense for your descriptions, and also allows you to start working on your description before you’ve uploaded packages. Learn more.
New view publishing status: Many of you have also asked to know when a new app or update is live in the Store. Starting today, Dev Center shows the status of the app package and status of app metadata updates (product description, screenshots and prices) so you know when customers are seeing your latest submission. Learn more.
Preview submission API: The new Windows Store submission API will be made available in preview, beginning today and rolling out in waves. This new API offers a subset of functionality provided by Dev Center as a REST API and supports these actions for published apps: submitting updates, modifying metadata, and adding/removing in-app products. You can request access to the preview through the “Feedback” tab in Dev Center by selecting “Submission API” in the “Suggestions” tab. Access will be granted in waves, beginning with a small group of developers. Build session: Windows Store: Publishing Apps and Games to Xbox, Desktop and Mobile.
Preview dashboard design: Dev Center is being redesigned to make app submission faster and enable richer analytics. Starting this week the first wave of new dashboard pages are being made available to developers that opt-in to the Dev Center Insider Program (more about this new program below). Build session: Windows Store & Dev Center Overview: New capabilities to help developers succeed.
3. Engagement and promotion
New community ads: Developers can now share unused ads-in-app space to promote each other’s apps at no cost. If your app is using the Microsoft Advertising SDK or the new Store SDK, sign up for community ads to earn credits by showing ads from other developers in your in-app ad space and then use those credits to promote your apps. Learn more. Build session: Promote your app: New tools to grow audience for your app.
Enhanced promotional codes: Dev Center allows you to create promotional codes for every app or in-app product (IAP). Code creation is now significantly faster, in a matter of seconds in most cases. Starting in May, Dev Center will add capabilities to manage promotional codes including: specify an expiration date for a batch of codes upon creation, cancel a batch of codes you no longer need, and check the redemption status of an individual code. Learn more.
New promote-your-app receipts: Starting this week, Dev Center provides a receipt for all promote-your-app purchases, in the analytics left navigation bar → App Install Ads → Download (below account billing history).
Preview Store lists: Windows Store is releasing the Most Popular list to provide more ways for customers to find your apps. Most Popular will show the apps that are most downloaded and used and can be found in the Windows Store app.
Preview retargeting and reengagement notifications: Send notifications and Live Tile updates to segments of your apps’ customers directly from Dev Center. This is useful for announcing offers, new features, updates and news to your customers. You define which customer segments get the notification, send the notice, and then measure if the notification drove reengagement. This feature will be rolled out in waves beginning today. Review the policies before using this feature. Build session: User segmentation and targeted push notifications for UWP apps.
4. Enhanced analytics and app management
New A/B testing: Test customer behavior by enabling different experiences for your installed user base, and track conversions attributed to each experience using the A/B testing API. This enables you to run experiments without modifying or republishing your app, then use Dev Center to measure and compare the effectiveness of each experience to maximize monetization and customer engagement. For example, you can test whether rewarding active customers in your game with a special bonus encourages additional game play. Learn more. Build session: A/B Testing for UWP apps: Experiment for success.
New app feedback API: Customers frequently provide feedback for an app directly in their reviews, which does not provide all the detail you need to troubleshoot. Starting this week, you can leverage the Store SDK to add a link to your app that launches the Feedback Hub, where customers can submit and vote on other users’ feedback about your app. You can use the control to solicit feedback about an app flight or version, prompt a customer for their opinion on a specific feature or level, or offer support. Feedback is displayed in the new Dev Center Feedback report and can be exported for further analysis. Learn more. Build session: App Feedback: Connect with your customers.
Enhanced crash reports: Crash reports are critical to improving the reliability and performance of an app. The Dev Center Health report now includes the complete stack trace, which is much more helpful to debug issues, particularly with UWP apps.
New analytics API and Power BI content pack: Two new analytics reporting options are now available to analyze your app data without logging into Dev Center. Windows Store analytics API provides analytics via a REST API to query information about your app from any date range, through the lifetime of your app. The Power BI Dev Center content pack provides a Power BI dashboard with a rich set of visuals and filters that can be customized.
New lifetime downloads and export all reviews: Dev Center now supports exporting ratings and reviews for all of your apps in a single file (previously limited to one app at a time). Beginning in April, you will be able to view lifetime app and IAP acquisition data, allowing you to view how many downloads your app or IAP has had since it was first published.
New Dev Center UWP app: A new UWP app is now available in Windows Store, giving you easy access to key information from all your Windows Store apps (Windows 10, Windows 8.x, Windows Phone 8.x and earlier). Download now.
5. Announcing the Dev Center Insider Program
Preview Dev Center Insider Program: Today we’re launching the Dev Center Insider Program, enabling you to view and test new Dev Center features before they are released to all developers and provide feedback to help improve these features. The program will be rolled out in stages. To participate, accept the invitation notification in Dev Center, and then send your feedback through the Dev Center feedback link. You can opt in or opt out of the program at any time from the Account settings page on Dev Center. See the terms in the Insider Program exhibit.
New Dev Center messaging: Dev Center recently launched a messaging system displaying alerts, notifications, actions and suggestions that are relevant to you on the dashboard. The Dev Center Benefits program is now integrated into these messages to show you relevant actions to improve your apps to attract more users.
Update App Developer Agreement (ADA) and policies: This week Dev Center will show an updated App Developer Agreement that includes minor changes to support the new features (e.g. Dev Center Insider Program terms, community ads, affiliate ads, analytics). The Windows Store Policies have also been updated and reflect the new IARC age rating process as well as new info on App Discoverability Criteria that gives more insight on how qualitative elements of your apps may affect their ability to be more discoverable in Store search results.
6. Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps extend to Microsoft HoloLens
The vision of UWP is to be able to build one app and run it on multiple devices. This opportunity continues to grow by extending UWP apps to target Microsoft HoloLens. Learn how to optimize existing apps for HoloLens, and how to build 2D apps and Holographic apps.
Dev Center now offers the option to publish your app to HoloLens devices. Select this option to make your app available for HoloLens.
In a future release, we’ll add an option to make your app available to Xbox. UWP games that participate in ID@Xbox may be published to Xbox later this year. For more information, check out the Build keynote session.
We are pleased to bring these new capabilities to the Windows developer community. Please let us know your feedback and experience through the “Feedback” button in Dev Center. We have more planned – keep checking back for updates. And, enjoy Build!