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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!

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Great, looking forward to this update!
  • Seems faster
  • That joke is boring now.
  • No it's not =P
  • Yes it is.
  • No it's not :|
  • No, it is.
  • No it's not :'(
  • It REALLY is.
  • T_T
  • (o_O) ?
  • You didn't even use it right anyway -_-
  • Then Mr. right how should I use it
  • Not at all
  • We hate it every time, but it is usually for updates, ESPECIALLY Facebook app updates...
  • just..stop.. I hate reading that joke because I have to dig the funny part in it. so please, 
  • Seems getting smaller..... here.....  :(
  • LOLZ hahaha
  • lol lets reply 4ever to make this 1 px :)
  • Lol
  • I like it.
  • Yes, it is not.
  • No, it is not. Is.
  • Well you're saying it wrong :P
  • There's a special place in hell for you....
  • Not it's not
  • Would you rather debate about the Store's ability to 'run crysis'?
  • Lmfaoooooo!
  • It's funny cause it didn't make any sense
  • IM sensing hostility >_>
  • Cool, but I hope they will change the boring black background to something like the main picture of this article ;)
  • A design close to the Windows Store would be nice. :)
  • That's not a bad idea. The store would feel a lot more greener (xboxish) xD
  • That's true, this one rocks. Looks a bit XBOX-themed.
  • How is black boring ???Who gives a fook about colour?? Windows Phone ain't for sissies.
  • Who gives a took about color, says the man using a screaming yellow Lumia.
  • Nice ;)
  • Your reply is really........ disappointing.... Don't tell others you are a windos phone user. Disgrace us.
  • *Windows Phone
  • ?
  • 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.
  • The dark themes are one of the most appealing"things" in WP imo. If they're to change it at least make it optional.
  • 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!!!
  • Background pictures creates a translucent effect which is visually appealing.
  • Love the new store!
  • No, no... You mean "Store". The "S" is now capitalized. :P
  • What a treat!
  • Ah, finally a more detailed WiFi icon in the status bar! :)
    I really like the new review section. So much better!
  • Nice spot there. Could never really tell how good your connection to WiFi is.
  • I actually have seen but it was like it's normal thing but when I read this comment I like omg O_O =)
  • Wait, does the WiFi icon right now actually not show signal strength? 
  • Yea it shows all bars or none
  • Nope.
  • Unless the screen shots were taken mid-connection when the icon animates..
  • That can also be true, but I think it will show you the signal in 8.1
  • 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
  • Its an option so you can still update manually if you want
  • IOS tells you what's new when you have automatic updates, so I don't think that's a problem.
  • 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.
  • I hope that list can be cleared on demand though, it gets crowded quickly.
  • 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.
  • Unfortunately those same users may not know/bother to update to 8.1.
  • 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.
  • Oh yes. One of the most annoying things on Windows Phone.
  • I cant wait for Build; April 2 :)
  • I just cant wait until build:(
    And im afraid if they say that pushing updates starts later ....
  • Do you really believe you'll get 8.1 by "build" time?! Really?!?!
  • Off topic, but why is when I leave a review, it always shows up as User?
  • 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.
  • Because you are a user, perhaps.
  • This ^^^^^
  • At least you can see your reviews! I can never find mine, and it leads me to believe they don't get posted.
  • Auto-updating and being able to look for updates are the two things I'm most excited for with the Store overhaul. 
  • My 1020 is purring at the greatness that awaits it.
  • Same here can't wait.
  • Manual update checking. I APPROVE.
  • 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.
  • It shows you that apps were updates, but not which ones.
  • Agreed
  • I like to read what's new in the updates.
  • 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".
  • Welcome change, specially the My apps section is welcome addition. Automatic update is very good to have feature.
  • Giggitty! Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • 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.
  • The layout between the  WP7.x Marketplace and WP8.0 store did change.
  • 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.
  • Maybe he meant the default store search? That messes up apps and games together...
  • 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 ;)
  • Indeed they are separated :P
  • 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!
  • Man I love icon
  • I wish it was in India...
  • Nice. We have to wait for one more week.
  • I hope we get surprised next week at Build and not having everything already leaked 
  • Me too
  • Me TOO
  • ME TOO
  • Me three, er... FOUR!
  • And hopefully "related apps" will actually be related. Lets go baby!
  • Lol hopefully
  • Not having a "My apps" section is REALLY retarded. I'm glad they're "fixing" that. And again... I CANT WAIT!!
  • I wish they had re-designed that Quick Links screen... It looks uggly!
  • Even more stoked for 8.1! This is going to be so much more than I expected 8.1 to be :) 
  • Any chance the store will have a landscape view?
  • No. :( Would be nice though.
  • Beginning of new era with 8.1, waiting to hit my rig with this update...
  • Great news
  • I knew they would do this they needed too and they shouldn't stop point blank because windows phone is growing :D
  • 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.
  • At last they fixed that dull miserable place.
  • 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 
  • The search results are terrible, hopefully they fix that  
  • +1020
  • Many a times the official apps are hidden by unofficial ones when looked for. That really sucks...
  • 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.
  • That's becaues the Beta is set to private.  You need a link to download it.
  • A bit of a fail on youre side here :D
  • Heh :) Of all the examples I could have come up with, I had to choose one of a beta app lol
  • 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)
  • Maybe your search queries are the problem, I've never not been able to find an app in the store.
  • 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.
  • You need to direct that to Jay Bennett.
  • 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.
  • As long as it don't become cluttered like Google Play