New images reveal an overhauled Store for Windows Phone 8.1, includes automatic app updates and more

The Windows Phone 8.1 core has been finished today, so it seems appropriate to take a look at an area that is need of some improvement: the Windows Phone Store.

The Windows Phone Store has been both a source of inspiration (e.g. trials), and tribulations (e.g. weak tools for reviews). Luckily for you, it looks like the Windows Phone team is delivering some user-requested features and parity with Windows 8.1. Hopefully these changes will deliver a more satisfying user experience.

The information comes to us from people familiar with the matter, and we have been able to verify that the information is accurate. Having said that, there may be some changes to the final design for the RTM release of Windows Phone 8.1.

NEW Store layout for apps in 8.1

When it comes to graphic design, the Store has quite a few noticeable changes:

  • ‘Store’ is now capitalized
  • ‘Featured’ is now the first pane, with more than one app or game presented
  • ‘Quick Links’ with featured apps, games, Top, New + Rising Apps, etc.
  • ‘Categories’ section with general games, entertainment, lifestyle, etc.
  • ‘Personalized’ for app recommendations based on your history, likes and interests with the ability to dispose of recommendations via a ‘not interested’ button

Overall, the new scheme looks to be tighter with a heavier focus on promoting fresher and higher profile applications. It also resembles the Store on Windows 8.1, which should be expected as Windows Phone and Windows 8 come closer together in their development.

OLD store layout for apps in 8.0

Regarding new features, we’re told there will be quite a few that Windows Phone users have been clamoring for, including dedicated sections for:

  • My apps – Checks for updates
  • Downloads – See active downloads
  • App Updates – Option for automatic updates; only over Wi-Fi
  • Use my location – For better app suggestions

New Store design for 8.1, including Settings

When diving into an app or game listing, consumers will have various new additions to make the Store more potent:

  • New layout – overview, reviews, details, related (versus: details, reviews, screenshots, related)
  • Menu (via ellipsis) – New shortcuts to Home, Share, My Apps, Settings, Downloads
  • App screenshots merged below app description instead of own section
  • Reviews – This section gets a graph of stars for reviews; ability to sort reviews by most helpful, most recent, highest rated or lowest rated; users can judge user reviews as helpful/unhelpful
  • App details such as language, version number, last updated is now on a separate page

While the screenshots here are from a slightly older build of Windows Phone 8.1, they should convey these general changes that are expected in the final release. We’ll have to reserve final judgment until we get our hands on 8.1 in the coming weeks, but so far it looks like the Windows Phone team has taken pointers from Windows 8.1 and consumer feedback to build off of an already solid foundation.

The ability to automatically download app updates see app update history and a more logical organization of software should make the Store an even better experience going forward.

What do you folks think of the changes? Let us know in comments!


Reader comments

New images reveal an overhauled Store for Windows Phone 8.1, includes automatic app updates and more



Cool, but I hope they will change the boring black background to something like the main picture of this article ;)

Your reply is really........ disappointing.... Don't tell others you are a windos phone user. Disgrace us.

I find it quite funny that the Playstore App look a ton more Beautiful then the WP store App. Thats hilarious and sad at the same time. Fix that Microsoft.

You know everybody is begging for the background pictures, I think Microsoft will include that option but they are keeping it as a secret to be revealed in April. Maybe that's most requested feature!!!

Ah, finally a more detailed WiFi icon in the status bar! :)
I really like the new review section. So much better!

I actually have seen but it was like it's normal thing but when I read this comment I like omg O_O =)

sweet!!!!!!! Keep them coming WPCentral & Microsoft!!! WP8.1 is gonna be AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!! cant wait to get in on my phone!!

Awesome! Automatic updates will remove the need to have a store live tile. I currently only have the store live tile to know when updates are available.

I'm not sure im a fan of automatic updates. You then don't know what's updated. Usually i check out a store listing to see what's new the the time i update the apps/games

Auto updates on my iPod are very annoying, it leaves the "Updated" section for about a week or two, so you have piles and piles of already updated apps, most of which are minor bug fixes. Glad this is an option for 8.1

Android tells you when and what apps have auto-updated as a listing in the notification center. Hopefully WP8.1 follows suit.

It's great for developers. I occasionally check my crash reports and I still see crashes from people using really old versions of my apps...crashes that have all been fixed in the latest version.


It seems that a lot of users simply don't bother (or know) to update apps.

The Action Center features ghost notifications right? Maybe there will be a section for the Store, that show us new updates or done updates. I think this would be the best way. I also hate to have the Store Tile on my screen, I don’t use it unless there is an update.

I have to say, I'm not a fan either.

There's no way to look at update history of store apps. 

There should be an update history for store apps, just as there is for Windows updates.

I don't care about automatic updates, but I'm really looking forward to manually checking for updates all at once. No more having to go to each app if I want the update before my phone checks in the evening.

I know this happens due to one of two things, if you havn't fully setup your Microsoft account with info, besides a email or if your privacy settings are set to private to protect you info.

At least you can see your reviews! I can never find mine, and it leads me to believe they don't get posted.

Will have to test it. I'm not a fan of the W8.1 store so I'm not sure I'll like the changes on the WP one, but we'll see. I'll judge it when I try it.

I personally won't use automatic updates (I like to keep tabs on updates, #ControlFreak). But awesome for those desiring this feature.

I totally agree... BUT with the new Notification Centre/Action Centre, it'll show you a the notification that it was updated! :D

That would be awesome. Sorry if I missed any previous article, but has that feature to show updated apps in the notification / action center been already rumored to be in for WP8.1?

I'm not sure if the Store is getting integration into the Action Center or not. I've not heard anything of it. Guess we'll find out in 7 days.

I just keep the Store app as a Small Tile on my Start Screen, it the top row on the far right. That way, whenever app updates are waiting for me: I just look at the Store tile.

But I suppose that's the great thing about the Action Center: it lets users make the choice to have the most important stuff on their Start Screens, and the less important stuff in the Action Center.

Exactly my point. I wouldn't be happy if I were to open an app one day and find everything has been changed.

Nay, I keep all my updates manual: as a preference. That way I can keep on top of what's doing what and when.

The purchase history is sort of okay, of value basically if you are setting up a new phone.  I didn't have any issues with the current layout, so there's nothing about the new layout that I really care about.  I don't care to have apps suggested to me, period.  I am not so lame that I care what is "trending" because I frankly don't care what anyone else is downloading.  I do like the ability to update apps automatically rather than waiting on a prescribed time for the notification to show up in the Store live tile.  The Downloads is a bit useless since I can't think of a single time when I felt the need to WATCH the download of apps (and they usually are so fast that the time is negligible anyway).  So, overall this is "meh".

Yay a new store! Its about time, cause I'm tired of this old, basic, tired store that's been used since wp7. We needed a refresh.

I've been hoping they're gonna separate Apps and Games into two different sections of the store. Anyone know if that's gonna happen?

What do you mean?  Apps and games are separate categories.  They're both considered 'apps' but they are classified under different categories.

Exactly. I want to be able to search for an app, or search for a game. Separate searches. Like Music, or Podcasts.

Its a basic need. They should've fixed it over changing "store" to "Store"... Lets hope they fixed it as everything isn't out yet ;)

This, and the notification center, are probably the two updates I'm looking forward to the most.  I've lived without a notification center since 2010 so I'm fine without it, but it's a welcome addition.  And the store has needed updating for a while.  If they also improve on the related apps section, which I used heavily with Android and had good luck with, then this will be a huge win!

Not having a "My apps" section is REALLY retarded. I'm glad they're "fixing" that. And again... I CANT WAIT!!

If the store could allow us to contact the developers via email. So that we can request them showing more interest by launching more apps for wp.

If the dev's app is in the store they already released the app, in which case they'll track download rates and can tell if there is demand for their apps.

A 'developer' page would be a great idea!  Like where we can see a profile, review them, and see all their apps and optional contact information.  But I feel some developers prefer to keep their info private, and keep their support/contact options on the 'about' page WITHIN their apps.

Slap me! you are saying win store did not have an automatic update ?

keep your eyes open MSFT developers ... see what your competitors doing ... try to be on top of them 

Hopefully they'll fix search for the apps. So frustrating to not find an app, even when we know it's out there. E.g couldn't find Facebook Beta and was lucky WPCentral had the link in the article.

Unfortunately, MS is getting a reputation for brain dead search.

I actively try to avoid the search in the WP Store, and now rely mostly on WPCentral links.

A competent 21st century search capability is a foundation piece of a first class ecosystem.

I am hopeful that MS will step it up, or they will need to step back so that they don't get hurt as the rest of the world rushes by.

(tough love comments)

Search for youtube and in all those results it is some web apps except mytube wheras mettotube and toib is not seen.MS need to fix this first.

Can't wait to see all the new features! It needs a major overhaul! This doesn't seem major, but it will do...for now.

Daniel, I have a request for the Modern WPC app. Can you make it like the Windows Phone app where we can see a slideshow of the images for an article. I wanted to zoom in on the store screenshots but was unable to do so within the app.

There are two ways to zoom in on an image in the WPCentral. First, double tap the image inside the article itself which isolates the image and you can zoom or save to phone. Second, when inside an article, slide right and click "IMAGE" then zoom or save to phone.

I don't feel like taking a screenshot of the app details when I can't download at such times, all the time. It is needed.

They need to implement a "Wishlist" or a "Cart" where we can short list apps we are still thinking about or want to hold off downloading until we have a WiFi connection.

Hopefully download large apps over mobile data is an option. I have unlimited data and hate having to wait to get to a hotspot.

Agree, it really sucks when it denies me from downloading large apps without Wi-Fi. I always have to return home for downloading...

Totally agree. I have unlimited data and dropped my internet because my data is so much faster. So annoying to have to go hunt down a reliable enough hotspot to download apps\updates when my data can do it alot faster.

"App Updates – Option for automatic updates; only over Wi-Fi"

Why only over Wi-Fi? Why can't we choose if we really want to!? There are many unlimited plans 3G/4G over there.

We don't have a decent and working unlimited 3G plan at least here and whichever are available, are way too costlier than my unlimited Wi-Fi plan that I prefer, but still I believe MSFT should have nothing to say regarding our file download size limit and automatic updates (if its so).

Ok. The only over Wi-Fi is an option you can turn OFF. This means it will download over cellular unless you tell it only over Wi-Fi.

Man "Was this helpful? Yes | No" is the feature I was dying for. This will certainly eradicate the me-too factor and stupid comments reactions...

I like that too, just as it is in Xbox & Windows 8... however, I also like to know when apps are updated so that I can check what has changed.
Maybe there will be a notification that an update has been installed.

Anyone notice that the WiFi signal at the top of the screen is now actually showing the strength of the signal (been waiting for this for a long time!)

Don't get your hopes up, this can also be seen when the WiFi is connecting, if the screenshot was taken at this very moment, you are going to be disappointed.

I wish I could disable all suggestions for games. I don't ever play any. A checklist for what categories you're interested in would be nice.
Also, I would like to see number of downloads.
And at last, they better not make the OS inconstant by only giving the store a capital letter...

This week of crappy news is killing me slowly, guys at WPC why didn't you just took some well deserved vacations instead?

What about app updates? There needs to be some separate change log rather than just pulling up the app description every time. It's nice to know what's new in each release, not every developer keeps their app descriptions up to date.

Looking forward for this ! But I don't think I will download the developer preview cause still don't want to break my warranty yet.

On a side note, can we have the WPCentral app free for a day? I'm sure all the readers will appreciate it.

I hope the app recommendations works correctly. In Win8 I say "not interested" and apps show back up. It doesn't work as it should, so ends up being useless.

I just wish you could "Download" a free app or an app you already own and "Buy" a paid app.  That terminology drives me crazy when I already own it. 

Best part is definetely that users can rate the ratings. That way Bad/ meaningless ratings won't hurt the developer as much


Thank the lord. I hate when I see a user give 1 star and then literally say nothing, or worse, make a comment that seems to have nothing to do with the app.

Now, if we could have option to revert to previous working version of an app. Some app updates mess up, would be nice to have that option to go back.

Here's hoping they make the "Top" and "New+Rising" categories worth a damn. As it stands, they're usually populated with garbage that has garbage ratings, and not even necessarily a lot of them.

I hope they add the feature to run an app I own from the Store too, like in other platforms. Often I search for an App I already have, and it s a pain to search it again from the app list :)

For god sake i hope they have an actual wallpaper for your tile screen in this update. Not like the ones on the tiles in all these leaked photos. Ill be very disappointed!

Really looking forward to it. I am really getting tired of seeing two-color interface. Glad they make some difference. :)