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TechnologyMar 06, 2013

How to Take Your Windows Phone 8 Application to Market

Andrew Allen

How the Windows Store Works

The Windows Store is the new application store where users can buy and download all Windows Phone 8 applications. Currently, the Windows Store only supports Windows 8 and above. Developers can use the Windows Store platform to distribute both Metro-style and traditional applications.

The most interesting thing about applications sold in the Windows Store is that they can be used across all Windows 8 devices. From tablets to PCs, Windows Store applications automatically scale to the screen sizes of different devices. Users can install applications they own on up to five different devices using their Microsoft account.

Just like other application stores, the Windows Store offers users the ability to browse for applications by different categories. The Windows Store also allows users to specifically search by category, price, and relevance, along with key search words. Once the “searched” application is found, the user can click on the application to bring up an overview. The user also has the option to see more details and reviews of the application before installation.

The Windows Store is the application source for all Windows platforms. The Windows Store not only hosts applications that are strictly installed through the Windows Store, but also allows users to download desktop applications not hosted by Microsoft. These desktop applications are listed in the store like other applications, but instead of downloading immediately, they offer a link to a third-party download site or store. If a desktop application is a paid application and uses the Windows Store for distribution, then the Windows Store takes a small percentage fee for processing the transaction. On the other hand, Microsoft does not take any percentage fee on desktop applications provided by a third-party site or store that does not need the Windows Store for distribution.

What’s different about the new Windows Store is that now there is a stricter certification process. In order to deploy a Windows 8 application to the Windows Store, the application must pass the “Windows 8 application certification requirements.” View the requirements here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh694083.aspx. In addition to the developer creating an application to meet these requirements, the developer must test his/her application using the Windows Application Certification Kit before submitting his/her application for certification. The Windows Application Certification Kit can be downloaded here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/apps/jj572486/. What Separates the Windows Store from Other Platforms?

Hands down, the best feature of the Windows Store, as compared to other store platforms (i.e., Apple App Store, Google Play), is revenue sharing. Each of these stores lets developers keep 70% of their revenue from paid applications within their respective store. In contrast, the Windows Store allows developers to keep 80% of their revenue from paid applications once the application has reached $25,000 USD or more in revenue.

How to Deploy an Application in the Windows Store

1.     Register for a Windows Store Developer Account

In order to deploy an application to the Windows Store, you must have a Windows Store developer account. There are two account types: individual account and company account. An individual account costs $49 USD per year and can only be used by one individual. An individual account is restricted from using specific application capabilities and cannot list desktop applications in the store. A company account costs $99 USD per year and requires additional verification from your company. Company accounts are not restricted from capabilities and can list desktop applications.

2.     Prepare for Certification and Certification Testing

With the new Windows Store, there are stricter guidelines that an application must pass in order to publish to the Windows Store. A Windows 8 application must pass very specific requirements. As referenced above, the most up to date Windows 8 application certification requirements can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh694083.aspx.

Next, you must validate your application using the Windows App Certification Kit before submitting your application to the Windows Store. Validating your application using the Windows App Certification Kit will test your application against several tests before it is submitted. Documentation and download instructions for the Windows App Certification Kit can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh694081.aspx.

3.     Package and Sign your Application with your Windows Store Developer Account

Now that your application is ready, it is time to package and sign your application. You must package your application for distribution using Visual Studio. This must be done prior to submitting the application to the Windows Store. Another requirement is that you sign your application package with your Windows Store developer account. Step-by-step instructions on how to package and sign your Windows Store application can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh454036.aspx.

4.     Submit your Application to the Windows Store and Certification Process

Submitting your signed package is the next step in deploying your application. You will need to decide on the following: application name, age rating, description, application price, application’s release date, etc. You will need to submit your application using the Windows Store Dashboard. Step-by-step instructions on how to submit your application to the Windows Store can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/br230835.aspx.

Now the waiting game begins. You must wait for the official Microsoft certification results to come from a Microsoft certification tester. It typically takes about seven days for your results to be complete. To check on the certification status, you can click “Status” below the app summary for your application on the Windows Store dashboard. There are three status options: In Certification, Passed Certification, and Failed Certification. If the application is still “In Certification,” you must wait for the certification process to finish. A “Passed” or “Failed” certification detail report can be found if you click “Details” in the application’s summary page.

If your application fails certification, the details will describe what failed during the certification tests. At this point, you will need to fix those specific errors and resubmit your application. This will involve another certification waiting period of about seven days.

5.     Windows Store Application Submission Success!

If your application passes the certification tests, your application will be listed in the Windows Store, however, it will depend on your scheduled release date. Congratulations, you have successfully listed an application in the Windows Store!

6.     Updating your Windows Store Application

Finally, in order to keep your customers satisfied, it is important to keep your application updated as often as necessary. If application crashes or fixes are needed, based on customer feedback, you will need to update your application in order to improve customer satisfaction. Details on how to update your Windows Store application can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/jj606115.aspx.

If you have Windows Phone 8 Application questions and/or looking for more great tips, please send us a tweet @CrederaMSFT.