Windows Phone Store overhaul brings app recommendations, bundles


Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is updating its Windows Phone Store in conjunction with the release of its refreshed Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system, introducing new tools to improve app search and discovery.

Windows Phone Store now boasts Picks for You, a personalized app recommendations tool powered by Microsoft's Bing search engine. Picks for You offers suggestions based on the user's app download history as well as apps installed by his Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) friends. Windows Phone Store also makes recommendations on multiple apps commonly downloaded together and pushes apps that are popular in the consumer's region of the world.

Microsoft is also rolling out Collections, which bundles six or more apps organized around a common theme and curated by Windows Phone Store staffers. "When making their picks, these in-house curators take into account everything from quality to local calendars to customs, so the apps you see depend on both when and where you're browsing," explained Microsoft Director of Program Management Mazhar Mohammed, adding that Windows Phone Store has already launched more than 450 collections across 19 markets, with others in the pipeline.

Also new in Windows Phone Store: Improved store lists. "Apps that are downloaded frequently, pinned to Start and receive great ratings will rank higher in lists like Top Free or Top Paid than ones that crash often, receive poor ratings or are regularly uninstalled," Mohammed states. "Factoring in all these criteria helps ensure our lists are pointing you to the very best apps and games in our catalog. You'll also see some new or renamed lists in the web Store including Best Rated and New+Rising, which now considers not only when an app was published but how quickly it's being snapped up."

Microsoft is additionally offering expanded Windows Phone Store purchase options. The new PIN-secured Wallet enables consumers to load credit cards and PayPal account information to purchase premium apps and in-app goods. Existing carrier billing options also remain in place.

Parents can also control when and if their children may buy Windows Phone Store apps by implementing new My Family safeguards. In addition, Windows Phone 8's new Kid's Corner designates family-friendly apps, games, videos and music separate from other content stored on the device.

Windows Phone Store stocks more than 120,000 mobile apps and games, and is now available in 191 countries and 50 languages.

Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8 late last month. The overhauled platform touts multi-core Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) 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 supports Near Field Communications-enabled m-commerce services. Users can also share content across Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 for PCs and Xbox gaming consoles.

For more:
- read this Windows Phone Blog entry

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