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Microsoft Rolls Out New ‘Windows Store Partner Directory’, Updated Xbox Music App

Microsoft introducing a one-stop shop for all services related to Windows Store apps called – the Window Store Partner Directory.

This directory is where you’ll find the partners who offer services for Windows Store apps.

The new site is quite intuitive and easy to navigate with areas’ filters on the left. For example, “the Has Offers filter provides special deals for you. Some of them offer something for free, even if it is for a short period of time. You’ll find our Partner Spotlight at the top, which changes regularly. The highlighted partner offers something unique (a compelling story, a great offer, a convincing case study, or just a very cool video),” explains Windows Phone team.

When you click on a partner, you go a level deeper where you’ll see links to their Windows Store app’s SDKs and documentation as well as their case studies and how-to videos.

Check out the Windows Store Partner Directory at http://services.windowsstore.com.

Windows Store Partner Directory

Also, an update to the Xbox Music app for Windows 8 adds new features to make discovering and finding music easier than ever.

First up, a new in-app search charm, located front and center on the Xbox Music homepage, makes it easier for you to find the latest and greatest songs and artists directly within the app for music on your PC, or in the Xbox Music catalog.

With this update, you can search for any artist, song, or full album and instantly play whatever you want. “You can also discover new music with Radio on Xbox Music. Previously known as Smart DJ, you can use Radio to create custom stations based on your favorite artists and the music you love the most,” explains the Xbox team.

In addition, you can now access 15 free song plays before logging in and use your 15 free songs to get to know Xbox Music, then log in with your Microsoft account for free streaming with unlimited skips.

Check out the latest additions to Xbox Music on your Windows 8 PC or tablet here.

New Xbox Music app for Windows 8

  • Built-in Search: Faster access to your favorite songs, artists and albums.
  • Improved Collection Management: Simple access to your music starts in the “Collection,” where the music you’ve saved in the Xbox Music cloud and your local music and will be at the forefront.
  • Streaming Radio Stations: “Radio” will offer seamless creation of new streaming Internet radio stations based on artists you like, and will give you faster access to favorite stations that you’ve already created.
  • Exploring the Music Store: “Explore” will take you into the Music Store where you can browse millions or songs, artists and albums.
  • Lists of Playlists: Your custom playlists will be available at a glance to quickly begin playback or make edits, and your playlists will continue to sync to your other Xbox Music devices — like Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 8.

In other news, Windows Phone team is offer app developers and designers guideance to get started on the Windows Phone platform,

“Mastering visual design, user experience, and information architecture skills is very different than mastering C#, MVVM, data binding, or other essential skills in the programming domain. In fact, it’s very rare to find people who are talented across this broad scope of skills that go into making a great app,” writes JC Cimetiere.

Below are some resources:

  • Guidance from the Windows Phone design team has the basic principles and concepts you need to design great Windows Phone apps.
  • 8 Tips for Designing Windows Phone Apps is a compliation of recurring patterns and common issues observed during actual design review.
  • Finally, watch the Windows Phone Design Bootcamp video series.

Update 06/26: Microsoft is advising Windows Phone developers, to consider creating a “Company Hub”, as a way to deploy line-of-business apps directly to employee phones.

“”Company Hub”, is an app that shows employees what company apps are available to them, and then they can install or launch the apps. The Company Hub might also provide entry points to other company-specific experiences on the phone, such as displaying current company news, upcoming company events, and alerts from the IT department,” writes McLean Schofield, a senior content developer on the Windows Phone team in a blog post.

To show developers how to implement a Company Hub, the Windows Phone Developer Documentation team at Microsoft recently published a Company Hub sample.

In another blog post, the team has put together a list of resources to help developers “maximizing the amount of revenue generated by their apps, make the best possible decisions about markets, language support, localization and OS support.”

Take a look at the chart below to get an idea of the number of app downloads per market in 2013, then head on over to this post to tips on localizing and monetizing your Windows Phone apps.

Windows Phone Store App Download Chart

Microsoft is also offering users guideance to setting up a Skype number and say goodbye to expensive long-distance bills.

“Setting up a Skype number lets someone call you from a landline or mobile phone, and you pick up the call on Skype – just as it would for a Skype-to-Skype call,” Microsoft stated.

Here’s how to get one:

  • “Sign into your Skype account on Skype.com
  • In the “Manage Features” section, choose Skype number
  • Click “Get a Skype Number”
  • You’ll be prompted through the process of setting up the number, including picking the country whose area code you want attached to your number (you choose from a list of available countries, and although you don’t need to select the country you live in, some countries require proof of residence to set numbers with its area codes).”

Check out this FAQ for more information on the supported countires and more.

Also, released today, PHP 5.5.0 for Windows which has a number of updates. The most notable change to PHP 5.5.0 is the inclusion of Opcache extension which is to be bundled into the language.

“With the release of PHP 5.5.0, the PHP Community has also announced that PHP 5.3 will go into “Security Only” maintenance, which will last for a period of 1 Year, at which time PHP 5.3 will enter End of Life (EOL),” Microsoft stated.

You can download PHP 5.5.0 here.

Finally, Cumulative Update 2 for Configuration Manager SP1 is now available as a hotfix download via KB 2854009.

In addition to various issue fixes, this update also includes the following: “an updated Cumulative Update Setup Wrapper (Installer); and Updated list of supported Linux and UNIX clients.”

The Configuration Manager Client for Linux and UNIX is updated to support these platforms and is available from the Microsoft Download Center.

Check out knowledgebase article KB2854009.

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