Windows Store [Review]

Windows Store has come a long way and improved so much. It's also great to hear about the latest news that the Desktop apps ported over the Universal Windows Platform are now available at the Windows Store.

It's even greater to know that these apps that are being ported used the Desktop Bridge, a program announced at Build 2016 that lets developers modify their apps so they run on all Windows 10 devices, which includes smartphones, tablets, game consoles, and even devices such as Hololens.

It is still a long journey but the consistency in the Windows Store on my Surface Pro 4 and Lumia 950 is definitely a sign of things to come. 

Here is a look at the Windows Store, which is very beautiful if you asked me, whether you are looking it from a PC or a mobile device.

Windows Store on Surface Pro 4

Windows Store on Lumia 950

The menu automatically slide from the left when you press it in Windows Store on mobile
There have also been the recent clean up in the Windows Store. And while the lack of apps remain a real struggle and issues for the Windows 10 Mobile platform, things have definitely improved. 

WINDOWS STORE ON LUMIA 950

When people talk about apps, they tend to talk about mobile devices so this is where I'll start. I also realized that I focus less on Windows Store when I use my Surface Pro 4 although the usage have definitely gone up even on the PC. But Windows Store is not just about being beautiful...I think it's also about being practical. 

Here's one of the features that I love the most about the Store:

ABILITY FOR FREE TRIAL ON PAID APPS

Before I purchase an app, I could actually go for a free trial and it's easy to do it.

Here's one example:

Notice the free trial at the side of the buy option
I think that's really cool because not only that the users have the options to try it, the users could also comment on how the app could be improved through the review by just going through the free trial. With this, I think developers could improve their apps based on these feedback which eventually will drawn the users to buy them. Sounds like a win-win situation for the developers and users with this feature.

MY LIBRARY 

I think library is important for us to keep track of our purchases and the apps that we don't have. Pretty standard but it's really standard even on both the PC and mobile. It also shows which apps we already have it but is not on the device currently. 

UPDATES

Downloads and Updates on Windows Store is pretty standard but it does has a lot of improvement compared to the past. Overall, I feel the consistency is very much the same on both the PC and mobile. It really helps me to get a hang of using the Windows Store on my Surface Pro 4. 

To be honest, I used to install a lot of desktop apps and preferred that compared to Windows Store but I'm looking more and more into the Store on my Pro 4 nowadays due to the ease of usage and the updates that are done much easier. 

COLLECTIONS, FEATURES, APPS PICKED FOR YOU

I think this is really good to improve the exposure of relevant apps to users. 

I'm not sure how the algorithm works for Microsoft's Windows Store but they have certain apps suggested to you which could be quite relevant to what you have been using and downloading. There is also the collections portion. It was beautiful as well as some featured apps. Most of the time, I would try these apps at least. I really think it helps a lot of developers to showcase their apps. If theirs are good, the users will buy it eventually.

When I press on the collection, there will showcase a list of apps under certain sections
When I press on the collection, there will be a categories of apps that I could choose and within each categories, a list of apps based on the relevance of these categories. Some of the examples are Picture perfect shots, music lovers, apps for travel, Better with Cortana, Your Social Network, Study and Play, Reading Room etc etc.

Pretty catchy in terms of the categories and looks beautiful as well. 

Apps we picked for you
The great thing about the "apps we picked for you" is that it has a lot of relevance to what I have been searching for most of the time. Not sure how it works but definitely a thumbs up to Microsoft and the Windows Store's team on this. There are also some featured apps like "afterlight" and others on the front page with a beautiful photo attached to it. It really draws the attention for users to check out these apps.

THERE ARE STILL LONG WAY TO GO

Enough of the positives...time for what's really bad about Windows Store because honestly, it's still bad and way behind Apple and Android. Regardless of the potentials that I feel the Store could have with the Desktop apps as well as apps for other devices such as Xbox and maybe even Hololens, there is still way too little apps at the moment.

TOO LITTLE APPS AND STILL THE LEAST PRIORITY AMONG DEVELOPERS

One could argue that there's nothing much Microsoft could do but I think there is a lot. With the stability now in the Windows 10 ecosystem, Microsoft has to work on pushing the Desktop apps and encouraging more mobile apps. Seriously, it's still too little apps and the least priority among developers.

Even the Microsoft's Garage team focus on the Apple and Google Store. There should be more focus on Windows ecosystem for Microsoft's own team given the lack of interests among third party developers. Interests are definitely building up with Facebook and Wechat and some other big names getting on board. But Windows Store remains the slowest in terms of updates. Take for example, Instagram Stories was the latest feature on Instagram and Windows Store got it a few weeks later. There is still no news on Pokemon Go on the Windows Store platform. 

There are also some pretty cool apps developed by Microsoft Garage team for Apple Store and not for Windows Store. I understand the need to embrace the other platforms but not to ignore the Windows Store. Windows Store has come a long way in terms of design, search, features etc and now it's time to stay the course and add the number of good apps into it. One of the first way to encourage developers into Windows Store is to get on board the platform first for Microsoft Garage. 

And even after the clean up recently, I still see a lot of rubbish apps on the Windows Store. I know that is subjective but I really think there is a need for improvement in this area.

COLLECTION FEATURES SHOWING UP IN THE "WRONG" LANGUAGE

I have earlier talked about these collection features as being great but there is one funny thing about the language used. When we set up the mobile device, it will ask for our region and normally the Store would localized based on where you are. For example, in Malaysia, there are certain apps that you won't see because it's only for USA and vice versa. So, when I choose my region and set it to country: Malaysia, these collection features showed up in Malay, my country's national language.

If you notice the photo below, collections and other menus are based on the language I set for my phone but the wording: Kotak alat anda, Apl wang dan bajet, and also further down, Permainan Xbox Live.

While nothing entirely wrong with this, it gives a bad user experience especially for people who are not familiar with the language of the country. Said for example, a British working in Malaysia and set the region and country to Malaysia, he will be seeing "Kotak alat anda" and wonder what is that. I think these images should be tagged based on language preference instead of location. Understand that the Windows Store is trying to be localized but it should be used according to the preferred language.




It's a big progress nonetheless but Windows Store is still very fragile as compared to Apple and Google. I think Microsoft should really push its Garage team to focus on the Windows Store as well. After all, the universal apps talked about porting apps easily so they really should practice it. 

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