For past two months, Microsoft is busy with infrastructure upgrades to the Windows Phone Dev Center and also made some improvements to the Windows Phone website, that now sporting a new look and a few improvements to online consumer store for apps and games.
Among other, one notable change is that Marketplace is now called the Windows Phone Store. By doing so, "we're following the lead of Windows 8 and its Windows Store for apps and games," writes Mazhar Mohammed on Windows Phone blog.
The two even share the same Store icon:
Microsoft says these changes are currently rolling out in Australia and New Zealand, and will available around the world in the coming weeks.
Here is what is new:
The site now has a cleaner design and a couple new menu options. "Clicking on News, for example, provides a handy summary of what notable journalists, reviewers, and bloggers are writing about Windows Phone or the latest handsets and apps," Microsoft stated.
You'll also notice the Marketplace menu option has changed to Apps & Games.
In addition, Improved app search making it finding apps and games for your phone even easier. First, "the Search box now relies on the Bing search engine to supply results. Another cool thing about relying on Bing search algorithm is that it's designed to learn from all the searches people do and will actually get smarter over time, returning more relevant search results," Mohammed says. With th new Search box, you can:
- Find apps even if you make spelling mistakes or typos--for example, "Facebok" instead of "Facebook".
- Find similar apps more easily. For example, type "guitar" and you'll see relevant apps even if they don't have "guitar" in the title.
- Finds apps in same genre. Type "health" to see apps related to dieting, exercise, and more.
Now, that Windows Phone Store has more than 100,000 apps, the new "Smarter app lists" not only classifies "New, Free, and Top" labels, but it also adds some new browsing options:
- (These changes only apply to the web Store for now, but will be mirrored on new phones later this year.)
- "In the Store, you'll now see "Top Free" and "Top Paid."
- The renamed and improved "New+Rising" list is not only refreshed more frequently, but takes into consideration how quickly an app is being downloaded.
- A new addition to the lineup--"Best Rated"--ranks apps based on customer ratings and actual usage patterns for a more nuanced picture of what's great.
- The "Spotlight area" of the Windows Phone Store, meanwhile, showcases a mosaic of recently-published apps chosen by our in-house experts," Mohammed said.
Working on the feedback, Mohammed said the "overtly sexual content are now a little less prominent on virtual shelves." "To strike a balance (between stocking a range of apps and ensuring Store appeals), the team decided to make racier apps a little less visible." Adding, he says, the Store will carry this genre, that meet the certification criteria and display them in search results. But, those will be "less front and center to casual browsers," a group that can include younger family members.
Also, added is a new mechanism for reporting apps or game that you find offensive, has technical problems, or doesn't work as advertised. For this, just use the new "Report concern" link located on "every app's download page."