Windows Store: The Redesign

I’m testing Windows 8.1 Pro Preview, and I encountered a totally redesigned version of the Microsoft Store. It really did look nice! So nice, in fact, that I felt like I had to write an article about it.

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What Microsoft has done here is a fabulous thing. They combined their Metro UI with a good sense of card-layout (a Google rip-off?) and have created a Store which is a good improvement over the old one. Apps now have ratings similar to that of the Apple App store and Google Play store (displaying how many people voted for what star rating), and the store has a ‘Featured Apps’ list which goes like a gallery, displaying one app per slide (and will go to the next app if you hover the mouse over and scroll). And of course, as we all know, now they are called Windows Store apps, not Metro apps. The background has a nice combination of grey and green (and their various shades) combined with white. The app logo is displayed with one snapshot image for the featured apps, and without the snapshot for other apps.

Once a user clicks on the App name, they are redirected to its download page, where there is a lot of information about the app. The whole thing is designed to be very helpful, displaying ratings, comments, similar apps, apps from the same developer, features of the app, and of course, the install button. Personally, I loved it. But unfortunately those with Windows 7 PCs won’t be able to look at it.

The categorization has also changed (mentioned below). To look at apps in the earlier classification, you must right-click the screen, which will show a drop down menu containing the old sorting. It also contains options such as ‘Home’, ‘Your apps’ and ‘Your account’. More about them in later sections.

Right-click options
Right-click options

Where it is a better successor / what’s new:

  • Design: Yes, there’s no doubt about it. This version of the Windows Store is better looking than the previous version. Good work, Microsoft. The colors are really nice.
  • The categories: The organization is very different from the old version. Apart from the featured apps, the categories of apps are:

–        Picks for you

–        Popular now

–        New releases

–        Top paid

–        Top free

  • The ‘not interested’ button: In every app tile, there is a tiny ‘not interested’ button which says ‘thanks for your feedback’ when clicked, so I’m guessing it gets help in personalizing what we see. Since I don’t know what algorithm is followed there, comments reserved.
  • Bigger tiles: One of the features which make it look different from before is the huge size an app thumbnail occupies on the screen. This contains a photo of size ‘wide’ (one of the four tile sizes in Win8.1) accompanied by star rating, a two-line description, price, and a tiny reason why it is being shown to you (strange, I know). Something on the lines of ‘one of the top 5’, ‘similar to something’, ‘popular with people who have so and so app’.
  • A broader range of apps: More apps are now on the Windows Store. Something refreshing. I’m not going to say all are good, but it does mean people are finally considering Windows Store as a market worthy of their time and money, and has some potential in it.
  • No open button: One thing I like about the Apple App store is that while I’m browsing around in the app store, if I open the page of an app I have already downloaded, it displays an ‘Open’ button in place of an install one. This is a very minor thing, but I’m sure it’s not so hard that they can’t fix it.
  • Overshadowing of new apps: This is a very common problem in today’s format of App stores. Any new apps find it really hard to make it to the top, thanks to the organizational structure of the app stores. Only apps which are popular, or featured, will be seen immediately. Unfair, if you ask me.
  • Placement of the ‘Show more’ button: Again, a very minor thing. When a user goes into an app’s page, and wants to look at the description, he generally looks right below where the first few lines end for a ‘Read more’ button or something on those lines. Better to place it there instead of at the bottom of the screen.

Where it is worse than the older version:

  • No open button: One thing I like about the Apple App store is that while I’m browsing around in the app store, if I open the page of an app I have already downloaded, it displays an ‘Open’ button in place of an install one. This is a very minor thing, but I’m sure it’s not so hard that they can’t fix it.
  • Overshadowing of new apps: This is a very common problem in today’s format of App stores. Any new apps find it really hard to make it to the top, thanks to the organizational structure of the app stores. Only apps which are popular, or featured, will be seen immediately. Unfair, if you ask me.
  • Placement of the ‘Show more’ button: Again, a very minor thing. When a user goes into an app’s page, and wants to look at the description, he generally looks right below where the first few lines end for a ‘Read more’ button or something on those lines. Better to place it there instead of at the bottom of the screen.

The ‘Your apps’ and ‘your account’ sections:

Your account
Your account page
The your apps page
Your apps page

The ‘your apps’ section, as is obvious, lists all the apps that the active account user owns. There are two drop-down menus, one to choose which apps you would like to view. Options such as ‘All apps’, ‘Apps not on this PC’ are present followed by more ‘Apps installed on <device>’ options, each listing a device which has a store with your Microsoft account on it. The second one is to sort and contains two options – ‘Sort by date’ and ‘sort by name’.

The ‘your account’ section shows which Microsoft account is currently active (including an option to sign in as a different user), payment and billing info with an ‘add payment method’ button, a code redemption area and a ‘Your PCs’ section which contains all the PCs with your account active on it. You can remove PCs too!

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Author: Akshit Tripathi

Just your everyday guy. If found drunk, return in a parcel to any mental asylum.

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