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change

Left: the old Store search; Right, new Store search with developer lookup

Microsoft has been hard at work “doing things” to the Windows Phone store, which in theory will improve things (so far, all we’ve heard are developer complaints about delayed app publishing).

One of those areas is now coming forward although we have yet been able to verify in the US. WPArea.de has noticed that you can now search by the developer’s name in addition to their app. In a side by side with an HTC Mozart and a Lumia 800, they found the Mozart was able to get different search results when “Kik” was entered.

On the Mozart, Kik returned the developer house first, followed by the app whereas the Lumia 800 showed the more traditional KiK Messenger as the first.

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Back at the end of May, Microsoft surprisingly turned off the Windows Phone Marketplace from Zune Desktop. The “update” wasn’t software based but instead just altered a configuration file on the user’s computer, causing the Marketplace to be hidden.

We ended up using a simple hack (more of that below) to bring ours back but now a user in our forum (“rockstarzzz”) is claiming that they’ve received another feature-change notification…

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Although we're of the camp that doesn't mind that the Windows Phone Marketplace for apps has been retired from Zune Desktop, we imagine some of you think otherwise.

Luckily, Windows Phone guru Den Delimarsky has you covered. He figured out exactly what the change was that Microsoft pushed on to us all yesterday. More importantly, he also figured out to block that change so you can get back the Marketplace for those apps.

Unfortunately the change is a little tricky. Evidently the "update" comes from a simple modification in the configuration.xml that is sent from Microsoft every time you launch Zune Desktop. All you need to do is switch a "disabled" setting to "enabled" but the tough part is you have to intercept that .xml file.

That's where you'll need a mini-server (or something analogous). Basically you redirect your Zune Desktop to a local server where you can have it fetch your modified .xml file and boom, you're in business. Now of course, this is only works so long as you stay with version 4.8. If you update the Desktop client (and Microsoft is sure to push one eventually) you can probably kiss this trick goodbye.

Anyway, cool stuff just remember, you're using this at your own risk (sorry Microsoft if you get mad!). Go read the whole thing at Den's site for all the details.

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For those of you who like the Microsoft Research branded Face Swap and Face Mask you'll want to pick up v1.1 which just went live.

The popular Face Swap app allows you to take a photo with two people and then switch their faces. The app uses a sophisticated face recognition algorithm to accurately and seamlessly swap faces between your two victims, giving a bizarre and creepy effect. Likewise, Face Mask does the same but with goofy cartoon effects, making your victim look exceptionally silly.

Both apps got bumped to version 1.1 and finally fix the link to "other" Face Party apps (before it read "coming soon") and also addresses a common crash when there were too many photos within the app. No other changes are noted, but we can't complain for what are two of the most fun and free apps around. Grab it Face Swap here in the Marketplace and Face Mask here.

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