Along with several security related updates that were made available today during Microsoft’s regularly schedule Patch Tuesday for May there were a few treats for Windows Store users on Windows 8/8.1/8.1 Update systems.
After you have installed the refresh for the Windows Store and open the Store app the first thing you will notice is that the Navigation Bar, which usually appeared when you right clicked or swiped up/down, is now permanently on display.
Having that navigation bar always in sight is intended to increase the discoverability of those elements of the store and is inline with many visual indicators that were added with the Windows 8.1 Update. This is obviously the trend we can expect to see across many areas of Windows 8.1 and beyond.
Just a real quick note at this point. Now that this Navigation Bar is always visible and if that is a destination you head to with your mouse as soon as the Store app opens expect to have to pause for a couple of seconds. The hovering bar that appears when you mouse up to the top of a modern app is visible and takes a few seconds to go away. This is a usability problem when an app is opening up. The better option on this would be to not have that bar appear on app start-up but only when the mouse goes to the top of the screen.
Who would use that to minimize or close an app right after starting it up anyway?
OK – onwards with notes about this Windows Store refresh.
Clicking on Top Charts, Categories and Account in the Navigation Bar will drop down more options to select from just like the previous version of the Store offered. You can then drill down through those selections to find info and apps.
When you click on Collections you get this nice clean page of curated app collections which are typically based on a common theme such as social, tools, sports, kids, fitness, etc.
Of course the Navigation Bar also has the search box there for quick searches in the store.
Additional changes in the Store UI include a higher number of apps visible on the screen which means Microsoft can promote more apps. This bodes very well for developers who are hoping to have their apps featured on the platform.
If an app is a Universal App and linked to an app in the Developer Center then you will see the small icon in the description to indicate it is universal.
Just as a reminder – here is what is meant when an app is labeled as universal – emphases is mine.
Starting with today’s update, Windows Store users will see the universal indicator identifying apps available for both Windows and Windows Phone that have been linked in Dev Center, and can be purchased once for use on compatible Windows 8.x and Windows Phone 8.1 devices. The ability to purchase once is coming to Windows Phone 7 and 8 later in the year.
App developers can also easily set their own pricing promotions for apps and can set the exact time it begins and ends from the Develop Center. That means not needing to head back into the Dev Center to change it back – very convenient indeed.
They have even updated the app listing to really highlight when an app has been marked down.
They have also changed several items relating to app certifications and some of the policies around app names and icons. This should help to stop some of the apps that are trying to capitalize on the names of other companies in their app title.
Check out all the intricate details over at the Building Apps for Windows blog – Enhanced Windows Store app discoverability, refreshed user experience and policy updates.