Windows Store Refresh is Rolling out

Microsoft is rolling out changes to the Store to enhance App discoverability. The Store has gone awesome with the introduction of Windows 8.1, and now MS is even making Apps front and center in the new Store Refresh. Continue reading

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Windows Store Passed 150000 Apps Mark

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I know App count has lost its meaning, still we at McAkins Online feel we should inform you folks that indeed Windows Store has passed the 150000 Apps mark. Really I don’t know whether to cry or to rejoice as I don’t see the real meaning of bloggers beating the app count to death resulting in the OS Publishers allowing junk apps in the Store just to belong to the number success group. If I may have my take I’ll say let Windows Store have just 5000 App that are highly polished and worth users’ time than having to prune the Windows Store just to find App needle in a haystack. Continue reading

Microsoft is rolling out Worldwide Alternative Billing for Apps

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Microsoft is adding easier billing methods in Developing Countries where Creditcard usage is much less than the Western world. It has always been a  problem for users in these countries like Mexico, Indonesia etc to buy Apps in the Store. Most of them just use the Freemium apps and Devs are compensated via ADs revenue. But this is not always a good plan for some apps, therefore this new initiative from Microsoft will go a long way. Now users can get billed via their telephone service providers when they buy an App. Here is the full statement below: Continue reading

Skewed Review System in the Store

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Click on this pic to see “Helpful” Yes/No figures.

A picture they say is worth more than a thousand words. I think the picture above is a good testification of that age old adage. The picture shows what is wrong with the Windows Store review system. Here is an app that obviously is resonating with end users, but because some unhappy souls got to review the app early, they got the high “helpful” figures and pops to the top for Microsoft to feature them as most helpful reviews even when the are negative and has no bearing with the app popularity in the Store. I mean 4335 people couldn’t be wrong with 5-Stars compared to 134 with 1 Star.

So, there you have it, an app can be insanely popular with end users but still be deemed not suitable by review logic of the Store. Microsoft need to fix this ASAP. It is known fact that only frustrated and unhappy users take the time to vent their venom about a product. You don’t see happy users at a support desk. Happy users are too lazy and don’t take the time to review, they are just content to give the app 5-Stars and move on. This is end-user psych 101. A good Store logic should catch this and bubble up positive reviews above negative ones for very popular apps. Period.

Note that I have no bearing with this app nor it’s dev., I don’t know them, neither have I been contacted by them. I am just using the app as an example amongst other apps that fall into this negative review trap while being very popular with users.

Please fix this MS.

IKEA Catalog now in the Store

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Splash Screen

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Catalog Page

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Catalog Browser

Today we are happy to announce the first App from IKEA in the Windows Store. It is not clear for now whether this is an official App, we are trying to get in contact with the publishers of the App to confirm. But given the fact the Splashscreen is one big logo of IKEA, we cannot imagine a third-party dev abusing the Trademark of IKEA this way. So either FBrites is fully commissioned by IKEA, or they are about to get into big fight with IKEA and Microsoft. We’ll inform you as soon as we know more about this. If you are from Fbrites over this app, please reach me either via twitter @McAkins or via site mail (denny@mcakins.com).

Following is the info as provided by FBrites in the Store:

Description

The digital IKEA catalog 2014!

Just like the printed IKEA catalog, the 2014 digital IKEA catalog is packed with inspiration, home furnishing knowledge and ideas for free. This year, there’s a special focus on ideas for creating a better everyday life for families with children.

Besides all the ideas and products that you will find by browsing the pages in the catalog, you will be able to access even more content with your smartphone.

Features

  • Browse the greatest Ikea Catalog Ever!
  • Save specific Catalog pages to your device.

Download now from the Store via the Source link below.

Source: Windows Store

All Microsoft Apps and a few Others updated for GA

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As you can see above, all Built-In Microsoft Apps for Windows 8 has been updated for General Availability (GA) of Windows 8.1 later today. Microsoft has informed severally in the past that they are preparing all their apps for the GA. The Store is at the moment in big state of Flux as MS prepares it for GA, and part of flux are these apps you can see above.

Also earlier today, MS made the mistake to surface the Official Facebook App in the Store before the GA. They made the same mistake with the Movie Moments app that you can see there in the list above. It was also released before time, but I was able to nab it before it was pulled in the Store. So, we now know for fact that there is an Official Facebook app to be made available today. We are all waiting with passion to know what other surprises MS has in store for us later today. Keep checking this Site out as we’re all over the GA as you would expect.

You may now ask what has changed in all these Apps, yes we asked the same question. A casual check on these apps reveals one consistency, there’s not much info. Some of them have the same Change Log that we’ve seen before, some went outright and removed all Change info with nothing to see. The Third-party Apps here above gave a little bit more info, for example eBay informs they now better support Split-Screen scenario and support more Markets. The Netflix app doesn’t give any info at all. All in all, you can just be happy these apps are updated, I guess we’ll see what changed as we continue to use them.

There is only catch with all these updates, they are only available for the RTM version of Windows 8.1. You can force-update these Apps by going to the Store app, go to Settings > App Updates and hit the “Check for Updates” button.

Let us know if you come across anything spectacular with these apps. We will keep you updated here too.

MS Giftcard Activated for the Windows App Store

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I was rummaging through the Store App today, and look what I found. Microsoft has activated the Windows App Store for Gift Cards in preparation for the GA of Windows 8.1!

For those of you who do not get how big this is, talk to anyone with kids and Windows devices. We’ve been clamoring to have a coherent way of giving our kids entry into the Store for Windows and WindowsPhone Apps without the kids bankrupting us. It is either you let your kids buy their $1.99 apps with your Microsoft Account or you attach your Credit-Card info to their MS account. A prospect that is not healthy in both cases. You might as well give them access to your bank account.

Thank God, now you can just purchase a $10 or $20 gift card from Microsoft, and give it to the kids and let them redeem it. Once they burn it up, they are done, teaches them also to be prudent with financial transactions.

Well I for one I am glad for this development. All my household is on MS platform. This is a relief. Had to do some PayPal ju-jitsu to get my Wife and kids to purchase stuff in the Store. Now, it is a straight forward process.

For now though, I am not sure you can purchase the Gift Card from Microsoft online. I heard you can in the brick and mortar stores. Hopefully we’ll be able to purchase with GA.

Now see if you can decode that code in the textbox. :)

P.S: Anyone with experience with this new feature, please let us know via the comments.

How to Turn-OFF App Recommendations in the New Store

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have noticed people are raving seriously about the new Windows Store for the new and improved Windows 8.1 Blue. There have been lots of articles about the new Store on various Tech sites that I don’t feel compelled to write another about it here. That’ll be unproductive and a waste of your time. But one thing I want to mention out is the new Recommendation feature of the Store.

As you might have read, the Store is now powered by the awesome engines of Bing. For better or for worse, we are being followed everyday by the Search Engines we use, whether you belong to Google or to Microsoft or whatever, there’s no denying it, our lives is being interpreted by these AIs (almost AI then, have it your way!). So unless you don’t use the internet, there is no denying it that these machines know one thing or other about us. So, we have the advantage in this case that due to your usage and search patterns, these engines knows what it good for you. So you have recommendations of Apps that the AI think will be interesting to you.

But you may not want your patterns to be recorded, and the new Recommendation features of the new Store turned OFF, well how you do it is right there in that picture. Microsoft, worrying about your privacy as usual, has added an Option for you Tin-foil wearing conspiracy theorists to turn off machine recommendations. Not that it matters, the NSA has got your backside via PRISM, so you might as well leave the darned option ON and enjoy the discovery it brings to the Store. :-)

In Microsoft Windows Store, Anything goes! Really!

Store Madness

I have been planning to write an extensive post about the quality of the Windows Store, but providence will not allow time to really dive deep into it. Maybe I will have time in the future to make a complete compilation. But coming across this app in the Store today really broke the Carmel’s back for me. The app was released yesterday, it is already causing users confusion in the Store! This is a blatant abuse of Microsoft Trademarks in all aspect, and an encroachment on Microsoft’s own turf. You can imagine my jaw dropping to the ground seeing this in the Store. Someone from Microsoft have to have approved this in the Store, or not? My question then is, is there anyone at Microsoft actually policing the Store? Is there any policy still being upheld in the Store at the moment?

Those of us Windows users spending a great deal of time in the Store are simply baffled by the kinds of apps we come across in the Store. It looked as if MS has abandoned the Store and relegated the Store accreditation to Machine AIs or something. No one in their right mind will let the kind of apps we see in the Store go through, even after 5 bottles of Beer! I am talking of apps that clearly encroach on Trademarked products. Apps that call themselves Facebook, with the trademarked logo thrown in. Apps that are so Fugly Steve Jobs would weep in his graves seeing MS murder a concept he made popular. I mean Apps with Logo’s that reek of stupidity and incompetence, Color themes that are not readable to users, like black fonts on a very dark background, totally opaque to any sane person. Apps that looked like they were created by monkeys in a zoo. Apps that clearly no one will touch with a 100m pole.

What is the point of Microsoft allowing these kinds of apps in the Store? Is it for the numbers? It will turn to bite MS in the long run, and people will take a look at the Store and conclude MS Store is crap compared to competing platform and move on. This is not competing with established Mobile Store leaders Microsoft. This is not the promise you made us when you were talking about the design principles of Metro. Your keyword: Beautiful is nowhere to be found in some of these apps.

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Take for example the Media Player Classic Home Cinema app, when I twitted some time back above, the app then cost $10.00 in the Store. Ten bucks for an app you cannot preview, nor test-run. No Screenshots, just the splashscreen. You are asking the users to trust you with their money and shell out their hard-earned dollars for something they can’t see. That’s a tough sell. Thank God, not a single soul has touched the app, so the Dev is now forced to drop the price to $5.00. Still a steep price for an app you have to buy in pure faith alone. It should be policy in the Store that any app that doesn’t allow Trials should have at least lots of Screenshots of the actual app so the users have an idea of what they are getting.

I can go on and on with what is wrong with the Store, but today is not the day for it. I am sure MS is aware of all these problems, the question is are they doing anything about it to keep their promise of fixing Windows 8 by the Windows Blue timeframe. Like the saying goes Microsoft, when you’re riding a Tiger, you can’t afford to make any mistake, like getting off for example. So to keep riding this Tiger, please fix everything that is wrong with Windows 8, including the Windows Store. Prune this Garden, it is now full of weeds. Weeds that are preventing your true lovers from seeing the awesome apps in the Store. Like we’ve all agreed for the Windows Platform, the Store should not be about App Count, but the quality of Apps therein. We would rather have a thousand Killer apps in the Store than a million junk Apps no one appreciates. Fix the Store MS, we know you can do it!

Official Best Buy App in the Store!

Well, we have a another, familiar, member from the shopping family joining the Windows Store clup. Everyone, let’s welcome Best Buy. Yes, this is the real deal.

Description

The Best Buy app provides a fresh new way to shop for the latest and greatest technology. Browse the full Best Buy product catalog and read ratings & reviews.
Shopping

Age rating: 12+
Publisher: Best Buy Co., Inc.
© 2003-2013 BBY Solutions, Inc.

Features

  • Browse the full Best Buy product catalog
  • Read ratings & reviews
  • Purchase Best Buy products for Shipment, Delivery, or Store Pickup
  • Get product details and make comparisons

Download now: Best Buy

AppSoft brings you the Store Stats with AppCounter

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As most of you know we were keeping track of Apps Count in the Metro Store here on McAkins Online, but then the number of Apps got to a point in which it is humanly impossible to track, at which point we decided to stop. Well we are glad some genius Devs have taken over the baton and continue with the Store Stats. AppSoft brings you by the way of this AppCounter App the latest Store Stats refreshed once a day. They provided a Tile that shows you latest info at a glance. We are glad for their effort and we encourage you to go ahead and download this app and keep track of the Store with us.

Here the excerpts from the Store:

Description
Did you always want to keep up with the progress of the Windows Store? Do you want to have info about the total number of apps on your start screen? Are you interested to see more statistics on the number of new/updated apps per day?
This app tries to provide you the most recent numbers.
Currently the data on the Windows Store is refreshed once a day.

Features
Overview presenting the total number of apps and the number of new apps per day for the last 30 days.
Chart presenting the stats for recent days.
Live tile providing info about total number of apps, new/updated apps.
Line chart – toal apps
Bar chart – app categories
Bar chart – countries (with highest number of apps)
Number of free apps

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Download the app now FoC via the following link:

Source: Windows Store

Official Unofficial Windows Phone Store App is here

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Now, here is a Gem from the Windows Store, a nicely designed app, dedicated to your Windows Phone app discoverability. You might not think this is a big deal, but it is, since you can only surf Windows Phone Store via the Web Browser. Microsoft attempted to highlight Windows Phone Apps is their Sync App, but that is a limited feature, the moment you want more, you’re dropped into the Browser. The Markteplace on Windows Phone itself doesn’t lend itself to discoverability on such a small screen, and as you know, nothing says “Click Me” better like a App-logos on the glorious panorama of a Metro App. So, here it is. Beautifully crafted by CiunKos. This App gives you ability to browse by Category and zero in on Best Rated Apps. You can also easily find New and Up-and-Coming hero apps. You are greeted by starting the App with the Spotlight page shown above, in which the best apps in the Store are showcased.

Here is quoting the Dev himself from the Store:

Description
Download apps and games for your Windows Phone right from your tablet or PC! Windows Store like interface now connects you to your phone. Download the best Windows Phone apps with this beautifuly designed app.

Features
Download apps and games right from your tablet or PC.
Use Search to quickly find apps!
Browse app categories to find apps you will love.
Browse reviews to check if app is good for you.
Browse screenshots to see if app looks cool!

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We Windows Phone users welcome this beautiful addition to the Store. Nicely done indeed. We wonder if MS should not buy this app off right away, or just hire the guy. Download the App right away via the Source link below, its free as the air; for now.

Source: Windows Store

Via: Mary-Jo Foley and @CarmenCrincoli

AppSwitch is back with a vengeance for Mobile OS Switchers

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A long while back I ran treatise on an App that debuted in the Store that allows Switchers from other Mobile OSes to feel at home on Windows 8. Since then AppSwitch has grown to become the first app a Switcher should download on moving to Windows 8. There has been improvements to the app down the line, and recently the Publisher has released an extensive update to the app in terms of UI improvements and database updates. You can now easily find any apps you were hooked on in iOS and Android on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. There are columns presenting the topmost apps, the “Top 50 Apps” like Microsoft like to call them. View top rated, view Reviews, Search by Category etc. I believe Microsoft should have done something like this actually with the release of their Mobile OSes, but we are glad an independent Vendor has taken up this challenge. Here are the updated features and screenshots from the Store:

Description
If you’ve recently moved to Windows 8 but can’t find your favorite apps, then use AppSwitch to find Windows 8 replacements for all of your favorite Google Android and Apple iOS apps!
Just type in the name of an Android/Apple app, browse a list of replacement apps (without having to leave AppSwitch) and download the one you think is the best fit for you.
Also browse latest, popular and top rated matches, add favorites, rate matches to help other users and share your discoveries in a fluid and functional app.
Don’t worry if the exact app isn’t available! You might find an even better one!
App discovery just got easy.
If you have any feedback, good or bad, then please email us:
support@appswitch.co.uk
Find us on Twitter:
@app_switch

Features
Find Windows 8 apps that similar to apps on iOS and Android
Search the Windows/Apple/Google app stores
Browse latest, popular and top rated matches

 

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This is the app that will make your switchover to Microsoft’s platform less of a pain trust me. You need to go get the app right now if you a new Windows 8 user coming from Apple or  Google’s platforms; what’s more, it’s free for what I can see for now. Download now via the source link below.

Source: Windows Store

December 2012 Windows Store Sales

Deals Spotlight

Happy holidays! We have some sales form the Windows Store, and, in many cases, freebies! The deals are easily highlighted on the “Spotlight” section of the Windows Store. As of this writing, there are six deals; however, this applies only to the US version of Windows Store. If you live outside the US and your country is offering some sort of deal, let us know and we will blog about it. Continue reading

Windows Tip: Turning off Windows Store Notifications

Windows 8 Store
If you want to turn off the notification you get every time you install a new app, it’s easy to do so. When you install an app from the Windows Store, the Store will send a push notification on the upper right corner with the message “[name of app] has been installed.” You can click the notification to launch your new app. If you do not want to see that notification but don’t want to globally turn off notifications for all apps, you can do so from the Windows Store Settings charm. Continue reading