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Application Life-cycle Management in Windows 8

Windows Store

The Windows Store enables users to search for, download, install, and review applications. As a developer, you can upload your applications to the Windows Store, making them available for download or purchase on every tablet and PC running Windows 8 around the globe.

To upload an application, you first need to create a Windows Store account and bind it to a Windows Live ID. This procedure is quite straightforward. It also lets you define the application’s publisher name, the name that appears in many Windows Store screens near the application name. Users can search for apps in the Windows Store by name, by keyword, and by publisher.

After you have created an account, you can upload an application immediately. Alternatively, you can reserve a name for an application you plan to develop within a year. If you plan to sell the application, you must also fill out the fiscal profile for the person or company specified as the publisher. You will also need to complete the IRS module related to your fiscal position. For example, if you are the publisher and you live outside the United States, you will need to fill out the W-8BEN form. Fortunately, a wizard will guide you during the process of choosing the right module and filling it out online.

You can upload and sell an application before you have filled in all the fiscal data, but you will receive no money until you have completed the financial profile.

Aside from these administrative tasks, the process of publishing an application is straightforward. First, you should verify that the application conforms to Windows Store requirements locally. This step is not required, but it’s very useful to validate your application quickly before performing any upload. You can validate your app with the application verifier (Windows App Certification Kit, or ACK) which, as shown in Figure 4-6, validates an application for technical compliance with Windows Store rules.

Figure 4-6

Figure 4-6 The Windows App Certification Kit verifies that an application conforms to Windows Store rules.

The tool can also validate a desktop application and a desktop device application for Windows 8 Desktop App Certification. The Windows App Certification Kit is installed on your system together with Visual Studio Express for Windows 8; you can launch it from the Start screen.

The next step lets you choose the application to validate (remember to deploy it to the local system compiling the project in release mode). The validation begins by launching the application. It is very important that you do not interact with the application (and the system) during the test, because the test also verifies how the application is suspended and how it resumes, as well as whether it closes and terminates correctly.

If your application does not pass all the tests performed by the Windows App Certification Kit, there’s no point in trying to upload the application package to the Windows Store. The Windows Store service performs exactly the same verification process, so there is no way an app that fails local certification can pass the store certification. At the end of the process, you will receive detailed information on any application problems, presented as errors or warnings. As stated earlier, the local verification step is not required, but it is very useful and recommended.

When you have completed local certification, if you haven’t reserved a name for your app, you must choose an application name before uploading the package.

For each application you upload to the Windows Store, you need to provide required information, including the application name and sales details (price, country availability, trial version availability, and so on). You can enrich this information by providing details such as an age rating (especially if your app is a game), the cryptography mechanism your app uses (if any), and notes to testers, as shown in Figure 4-7.

Figure 4-7

Figure 4-7 The Submit an App page allows you to fill in information about your application when submitting it to the Windows Store.

After completing the information on the Submit an App page, you need to upload the package. You can build the package directly from Visual Studio 2012 as you saw in the previous section of this chapter, choosing the option to associate the package with the application in the store. From a practical viewpoint, after you create an application using the Windows Store dashboard, you can associate it with the Visual Studio project using the Store menu. This association modifies the application manifest using the publisher name and publisher ID taken from the store services.

To do that, from the Store menu, select the Associate App with the Store menu item to bind the project to an application and import the publisher name and certificate to the project. Alternatively, you can perform the binding operation when you build the application package, as shown in Figure 4-8.

Figure 4-8

Figure 4-8 Associate an application Visual Studio project with the real Windows Store application.

After the upload operation completes, you need to fill in an important form linked to the Description button that allows you to define all of the marketing information for your app:

  • Description of the application (free text)

  • Two lines describing major application features

  • Seven keywords (may be more in future releases)

  • Optional copyright information and license terms

  • Eight optional screen shots, each one with a required description

  • Promotional images that will be used by the system if your app is selected to appear on the New Apps or Top Apps page of the store

  • Application minimum hardware requirements

  • An email address that users can write to if they have support requests

  • A privacy policy

For example, Figure 4-9 shows the attributes used for the Learn with the Colors application, which is a Windows 8 app the authors published to the Windows Store.

Figure 4-9

Figure 4-9 Attributes for the authors’ Learn with the Colors app.

For each application you distribute through the Windows Store, the store service provides statistics such as store trends, a financial summary, the number of downloads, and reviews and rating information.