Amid Wednesday’s Apple hoopla, Microsoft announced a new design and rebranding of Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace. As expected, Microsoft has deployed design and algorithm changes, and rebranded the place as Windows Phone Store.
The rebranding includes updates to core features, and a refreshing, minimalistic redesign that simplifies the store’s look to put it in line with its Windows
Metro Windows 8 design guidelines. You should find the site easy on the eyes.
The search box is one of the more significant updates, and now includes full Bing integration. Searches will allegedly provide “intelligent” results compared to the previous search functionality. For example, you’ll be able find the app you’re looking for even with typos, discover similar apps that won’t necessarily include the same key word as your search term, and find recommend apps in the same genre as your search.
Bing’s intelligence shines the more you conduct searches thanks to its machine learning algorithm. The Bing-integrated Store search engine will, over time, learn and output search results tailored specifically to what it believes you’d like to check out and download.
“We’ve been rolling out a much improved backend for both the Windows Phone Store and Windows Phone Dev Center. The welcome addition of Bing’s search engine is part of this infrastructure upgrade,” Director of Program Management at Microsoft, Mazhar Mohammad, wrote in Microsoft’s blog.
While the major updates revolve around app discovery, Microsoft has also put a focus on curation. Microsoft staffers are curating their favorite apps within the subpage “Spotilight,” under the Apps + Games category. But under the hood, updates to its categories like “New + Rising” will surface top apps based on tweaked metrics that take into consideration how quickly an app is being downloaded. The “Best Rated” category takes into account customer ratings and the frequency of an app’s use. Adding to this, you’ll notice a standalone News section that curates articles related Microsoft’s mobile products that are syndicated from other publishers.
Microsoft has also recognized that many of its users (read: parents) have requested that sexual content be taken off its app store. While Microsoft hasn’t outright banned sex-themed apps (that abide by its guidelines), the company will instead bury such apps, making it that much more difficult to surface those types of apps in the search results. Of course, if you’re searching for the term “sex” then Bing will suggest what you asked for.
Windows Phone Store rolled out first in Australia and New Zealand, and will launch in the rest of the world over the next few weeks.