Microsoft revamps app search with rebranded Windows Phone Store
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is phasing out the Windows Phone Marketplace brand in favor of Windows Phone Store in advance of its forthcoming Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system update.
"By doing so, we're following the lead of Windows 8 and its Windows Store for apps and games," explains Microsoft Director of Program Management Mazhar Mohammed. "The two even share the same Store icon."
According to Mohammed, the Windows Phone Store revamp features enhanced app search and discovery tools powered by Microsoft's Bing search engine. The overhauled Search box makes it easier to find apps according to function: Users can now type in "guitar" and see relevant apps even if they don't include the word "guitar" in their title. Windows Phone Store also suggests apps in the same genre--for example, recommending diet and exercise apps based on the query "health"--and identifies desired apps even if the original query includes a spelling mistake.
"Another cool thing about relying on Bing['s] 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 adds.
Windows Phone Store also touts new browsing options like Top Free and Top Paid, a renamed New+Rising spotlighting emerging hits, and Best Rated, which ranks apps according to customer ratings and usage patterns. The storefront also brings a cleaner site design and new menu options such as a News feature collecting reports and reviews on Windows Phone devices and apps.
Mohammed adds that Windows Phone Store will be more family-friendly than its predecessor. "In recent months a number of you have told us that while you appreciate variety, you'd prefer apps with overtly sexual content to be a little less prominent on our virtual shelves," he writes. "We're also committed to stocking a range of apps and ensuring [Windows Phone] Store appeals to as many phone buyers as possible. To strike a balance, we've decided to make racier apps a little less visible. We'll continue to carry apps in this genre that meet our certification criteria and display them in search results. They'll just be less front and center to casual browsers, a group that can include younger family members." Windows Phone Store also introduces a new reporting mechanism for apps with technical issues and questionable content.
The Verge first reported on the Windows Phone Store rebranding effort last month. References to the renamed storefront first surfaced in documentation related to Microsoft's new Windows Phone Dev Center online resource.
Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, expected this fall, touts multi-core chipsets to bolster smartphone performance and optimize battery life, a choice of three screen resolutions, integration of VoIP and video chat, a customizable start screen and Wallet Hub, which combines support for Near Field Communications-enabled m-commerce services including contactless payments, deals and loyalty cards, in addition to in-app purchase mechanisms. Microsoft has said that apps optimized for Windows Phone 8 will not be backwards compatible with previous Windows Phone editions.
- read this Windows Phone Blog entry
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