Microsoft Store developers can now distribute their apps to a select group of people thanks to a new "private audience" feature in the Dev Center. The feature, Microsoft says, is meant to address feedback asking for a way to test an app or game ahead of its release while keeping it invisible to anyone outside of the test group.
"This new option is available now to all developers and allows you to publish an app or game that will be visible only the people you specify," Microsoft says. "No one else will be able to see that the product exists in the Microsoft Store, even if they somehow have a direct link to the Microsoft Store listing."
The private audience can be found in the "Visibility" section of the "Pricing and availability" section of your app submission. From there, you can choose to make the app private or public. If you choose to keep the app private, you can create a group of users, who must be authenticated with a Microsoft account, who are allowed to see the app within the Microsoft store. Once you're ready, an app can be taken public at any time. However, once made public, an app can't be taken private again.
Microsoft clarifies that developers should have a clear plan to handle feedback from testers. While reviews left by testers will be shown in the reviews report in Dev Center, any feedback left by testers in Feedback Hub will be visible to everyone. For more on the private audience feature, developers can check out Microsoft's full announcement.