Looking to improve developers’ ability to monetize their Windows apps, new discovery features are coming to the Microsoft Store. Microsoft demonstrated the forthcoming enhancements during this week’s Build 2002, which the company held again as an online event.
The new Microsoft Store Ads will let developers create advertising campaigns for their apps. In the coming months, developers will also be able to create advertising campaigns within the store using Microsoft Advertising. Microsoft said the program is set to roll out “soon,” but developers can sign up on the waitlist now.
The enhancements, including improved search and the ability to restore apps more easily, will only be available to those developers with apps in the Microsoft Store.
Microsoft’s Nitah Harmon
“Developers will be able to create and run ad campaigns to target potential customers who are most likely to find their ads relevant and useful on the store,” said product manager Nitah Harmon, who demonstrated Microsoft Store Ads during a Build session.
“Once I provide my brand name and details, Microsoft Store will automatically sync details about my app to Microsoft advertising, and my app assets will be exported as well,” Harmon added. “This means I don’t have to provide creative assets like logos again; my campaign will use what I provided in partner center when I’ve published my app to the store.”
Microsoft Store Ads will also provide analytic reports on how a campaign is performing, once it is live. Within the Microsoft advertising portal, users will be able to view ad impressions, click-through rates (CTRs) and cost per click (CPC) spent on a campaign.
Microsoft Store Ads screen image
“These campaign performance reports will help me build a holistic view of how my campaigns are performing and take actions to tweak them,” Harmon said.
The store has taken on new life during the past year. Microsoft said the quantity of Windows apps in the Microsoft Store has increased 50% since the beginning of this year. Since revamping the online app exchange with the launch of Windows 11 last year, Microsoft said visits have increased threefold.
Besides rechristening the Windows Store, Microsoft eliminated fees it was collecting for apps distributed in the new store. The new policies allow app developers to keep 100% of revenues earned through the store when they use their own commerce platform, Microsoft principal program lead Nitya Mallikarjun explained during the Microsoft Store session at Build.
“Developers that choose the Microsoft Commerce platform get competitive rachet-downs as well. [That’s] 85% for apps and 88% for games, when distributing through the Microsoft Store,” she said.
Microsoft has made it more appealing to visit its store. Now, it hosts Android apps via the Amazon App Store, progressive web apps (PWAs), and apps built in other frameworks. And notably, it hosts Win32 apps. Until recently, there was a waitlist to add traditional Windows desktop software to the Microsoft Store. During the Microsoft Build conference, the company said the store is now open to all developers.
While Win32 apps is often a blanket term for traditional desktop applications, it also includes those built in C++, .NET, WPF and Windows Forms.
“These are the applications which, quite frankly, are what make the Windows ecosystem and the Windows platform so powerful,” said Pete Brown, a principal software engineer at Microsoft, speaking during the Build session.
Brown noted that until now, there isn’t a simple way to track analytics from acquisition from the store through its actual use.
“I’m happy to say we’re changing all that,” Brown said. “If you publish your Win32 application to the store, we’re able to provide some great insights not just in how the application performs in use, but how the install process works as well.”
Microsoft’s Nitya Mallikarjun
Program manager Mallikarjun emphasized that the Microsoft is morphing the store beyond app discovery and broadening its reach to the web
“It’s a distribution platform to help you get more customers,” she said. “We wanted to extend the same benefits to get on the store to the web, so your customers can install your apps directly from your website using the pop-up store experience. Downloading an installer file, finding the installer on disk, and going through wizards are now a thing of the past. As one of the most used apps on the PC, the store gets your app in front of an engaged audience of Windows, always looking for new experiences.”
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