On Wednesday (Feb. 22), Microsoft's program manager on the Store Services team, Russell Wolf, describes three features that can help developer to increase the likelihood that customers find their app from the web and buy it in the Windows Store.
"The Windows Store projects every app listing to the web. Linking to your app's listing page from outside the Windows Store puts you in control of driving even more traffic to your app. It also provides a more complete set of information to users, allowing them to make an informed acquisition," blogged Russell.
Windows Store protocol: a Windows 8 protocol enables launching directly to an app's listing page from outside of the Windows Store. "This functionality is very useful if you know your user is on Windows 8, and you want to be sure that they arrive directly at the listing page for a specific app in the Store," posted Russell. "For example, after checking a web browser user agent string for "Windows NT 6.2," or when you are communicating with the user via a Metro style app, you'll know your users are on Windows 8, so you can apply this protocol. Currently, up-to-date versions of Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox support Windows 8 protocols," Russell explained.
You can create your own Windows Store protocol link by appending the Package Family Name of your app to the URL below:
ms-windows-store:PDP?PFN=. And, you can retrieve the Package Family Name for your app either from Visual Studio, or by visiting your app's web-based listing page and viewing the page source.
Web version of your app listing page is automatically created in all markets and languages, once the app is published into the Windows Store.
"These web-based listings provide an opportunity for users on any platform to learn more about your app and are the best way to share your app through email or social networks when you don't know what platform your audience is on. If a user visits a web-based listing page while on Windows 8 and on a browser that supports Windows 8 protocols, they will see the "View in Windows Store" button, allowing them to transition to the app listing page in the Windows Store. As more browsers add support for Windows 8 protocols, we will update the web-based listing pages to display the "View in Windows Store" button for them too," informs Russell.
You can find the link to your app's web listing page by going to the Details page for your app in the Windows Store Dashboard, as shown here:
Internet Explorer 10 app switch button, let users know when an app is available for the site they are viewing. "When users launch IE10 from the Windows 8 Start screen to view a website that has an app in the Windows Store, they can tap or click the app switch button to go directly to the corresponding listing page in the Windows Store. (By the way, this only works when using the Metro-style browser that you launch from the Start screen, and is not available if you launch Internet Explorer from the Windows 8 desktop.)," russell explains. If they already have the app, they will instead be given the option to launch directly into the app.
Just add the following two lines of metadata inside the <body> of your app listing page to make IE10 aware of your app:
He notes, "You can find the msApplication-ID in Visual Studio (it's the ID in the Application tag when viewing the code of your "package.appxmanifest" file), and the msApplication-PackageFamilyName is the same Package Family Name that we retrieved above from either Visual Studio or from the source code of your web-based listing."
By default, IE passes the URL of the web page to the app but you can specify an optional third <meta> tag, msApplication-Arguments, to pass a context-relevant string instead.
Also, Microsoft recently published a brief "Windows 8 Touch Guidance" documentation on how developers should think about touch in their applications. "The four-page PDF touches (pun) on some interesting touch characteristics of Windows 8 - including but not limited to drag-down/up for select/deselect, semantic zoom and panning and swipe from edge."
The document also establishes some useful guidelines on content and interactive element placements for different grip positions - landscape and portrait, and positions - one hand, two hand, rested on surface or on stand. Through user research, Microsoft has also found a 7x7mm touch target optimal for the average index finger width of 11mm. If you're designing or developing a Metro-style app for Windows 8, make sure to add this document to your required reading list.
Download the Windows 8 Touch Guidance document here (PDF).