Tag Archives: Windows Store

How can your app get into Spotlight in the Windows Store

There is a Marketing your app section in MSDN, where you can find information about how your app will appear in the Windows Store. But you can find nothing about what your app needs to get into the Spotlight section on the first page of the Store.

Well, that’s intentional to prevent gaming the system and abusing the algorithm. Wouldn’t you just buy your own app ten more times just to get into Spotlight, would you? For this reason don’t expect Microsoft publish the algorithm…

Some tips that can help your app:

Make sure you provide Promotional images in the Description step of the publication wizard, because without this your app has no chance to get into Spotlight. You can upload PNG images in four sizes:

promotional-images

You don’t have to upload images in all sizes, but the more you upload the more chance you have. If you want to upload only a single image, let that be in 414×180 pixel size.

Second, make sure your app is polished. Even the simplest app has more chance to the get into Spotlight if you care about the details when you make it, than a more useful app that look like you spent no time on it. Don’t even hope with the default X icon:

apps-with-no-icon

Finally, follow the feedbacks. You can get feedbacks from your users not only through the Review page, but the Store also collects statistics about your app, which you can review on the Dashboard.

 

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Analyze the performance of your JavaScript Windows Store app

Applications published in the Windows Store must be fast and fluid, otherwise they won’t pass the certification because of the following requirement:

3.8 Your app must meet the basic performance criteria on a low-power computer
The app must launch in 5 seconds or less
The app must suspend in 2 seconds or less

Unfortunately the Windows Application Certification Kit is not enough the thoroughly test this requirement, because that tool runs only a few performance test. To test your JavaScript app, you can use the Performance Analyzer for HTML5 Apps tool from the Windows 8 SDK. After you install Visual Studio, this tool will be installed as well, but it won’t appear on the Start screen, so you have to start appperfanalyzer_js.exe manually from the C:\Program Files\Windows Kits\8.0\bin\<platform>\AppPerfAnalyzer folder.

This is the beautiful (?), modern (?) UI of the app (to get the full experience, click the image to see it in the original size):

appperf-start

Use the Please select an app to analyze to select your (or Microsoft’s Mosolygó arc) app, then click Let’s get started to start the analysis. By clicking the Advanced button, you can customize which tests you want to run:

appperf-advanced

The tool guides you through an 8-step wizard, giving you detailed instructions in every step:

appperf-step

You should take the given times seriously, otherwise the Analyzer won’t be able to collect enough data to analyze your app. The result is a HTML report with numbers and charts, which you can find in the C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\HTML5AppAnalyzer\Traces folder.

The following features of your app are analyzed:

  • Activation time
  • UI responsivemess
  • Layout passes
  • Synchronous XMLHttpRequest on UI thread
  • Image scaling
  • Memory footprint
  • Runtimer broker memory reference set
  • Memory leaks
  • Idle state CPU usage
  • Successful suspend
  • Memory reduction when suspended
  • App memory growth
  • Runtime broker memory growth

By using the HTML5 App Analyzer, you can learn a lot about the performance of your app, so you can occasionally run his tool regardless of the certification process. You can find performance best practices for JavaScript Windows Store apps here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh465194.aspx

 

Age rating in the Windows Store

There are at least two sections in the Windows 8 app certification requirements, that are related to the content and the age rating of your app, and which provided good bases to reject some applications:

5.1 Your app must not contain adult content, and metadata must be appropriate for everyone

Apps with a rating over PEGI 16, ESRB MATURE, or that contain content that would warrant such a rating, are not allowed. […]

6.2 Your app must have a Windows age rating […]

[… ] If your app provides a user with uncontrolled: (i) access to online social networks, or (ii) sharing of personal information with third parties, including other gamers or online acquaintances, then you must assign it a Windows Store rating of at least 12+. […]

In other words:

  • You must not have any adult content in your app (Windows Store does not support that).
  • If you app connects to any data source that provides content from other users, you should select 12+ age rating. So if your app is a Twitter client (like WallOfSilver), then it must have 12+ age rating because anyone can write anything to Twitter, and it can be displayed by your app. According to community experiences, it’s better to select 16+ rating.

If you need, you can even try to filter the content, using for example the List of Dirty, Naughty, Obscene or Otherwise Bad Words dictionary. Do you know any other source or service for that?

 

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Every non-free app has a trial in the Windows Store?

Here is a part of a page of Scott Dorman’s Flash Cards Sight Words app in the Windows Store. I made this screenshot from the Windows Store app on Windows 8:

try-store

It clearly shows that the app is available for purchase, but it also has a trial version.

Let’s see the same app on the web interface of the Store:

try-web

The web interface also shows that you should pay for the app, but nothing about the trial version. It turned out, that the webstore web store assumes that all paid apps have a trial version and only shows that it is free or paid.

If the visitor uses Metro style IE, she will see an additional button, and if she clicks on it, the Store app will show all the details:

try-web-storelink

Did you notice the two “if”s?

As a developer all you can do now is to provide some info about the trial version in the description of your app. What do you think, the users will learn that they have to look for it there?

 

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Certifying trial apps for the Windows Store

Some of the applications submitted to the Windows Store are rejected during certification because of the following requirement:

1.2 Your app must be fully functional when the customer gets it from the Windows Store

The Windows Store offers only fully functional apps to provide customers with the best experience. Anything that might cause our testers to think that your app is not completely finished will cause your app to fail certification.

You can help us by testing your app thoroughly before you submit it, and by providing us the information we need to test your app thoroughly. For example, if your app requires login credentials, provide us with a demo account. If your app requires access to a server, tell us what we need to do to verify that it’s working correctly.

According to community experience, it seems that you should provide test credentials even if you are quite sure, that the testers also have them. For example if your app connects to Facebook or Twitter, you better create a test account and share its credentials with the testers.

The question is more interesting for apps, that provide full functionality only after purchasing the app. So by default a trial version is installed, and the testers can access all features only after paying for the app. What should you do in this case?

Don’t rejoice in advance, Microsoft won’t pay for you just to test your app Mosolygó arc  The solution is easy for apps that use the Windows Store commerce system: just replace the CurrentAppSimulator class you used for testing to the CurrentApp class, and you are done – testers will be able to bypass the payment and test your app. But if you are using any other payment system, you need to provide credentials or credit card info to test the purchase and the full functionality of your app. You should enter these details into the Instructions to testers field in the Notes to testers step of the submission form.

Unfortunately there are forum posts about apps, that although are using the Store commerce system, got rejected because of requirement 1.2. In theory this should not happen…

In the forums, people have suggested to build a voucher mechanism into your app as a workaround: so the user can enter a voucher code you provide in your app (for example in the About pane) and she will get the full functionality without the need of a credit card. In this case you can share the voucher code (or a time limited version of it) with the testers, and you can also use this feature to promote your app by giving full versions to reviewers, bloggers etc.

Do you have a better idea?

 

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