Microsoft shut down AppHub for maintenance and, after a few hours, reopened it with many surprises. The first is that AppHub doesn’t exist anymore and it’s been replaced by a new portal called Windows Phone Dev Center. AppHub was a unique portal to submit both Windows Phone application and XBox 360 indie games with a unique subscription: now the two portals have been split and the Windows Phone Dev Center is available at the URL https://dev.windowsphone.com/
But this is just the first of many news: the second thing you’ll notice immediately is that the portal features a brand new UI, that is more clear and, especially, faster and that doesn’t require anymore external plugins (now everything is just pure HTML, the previous submit process was developed with Silverlight). What you won’t notice but you will surely appreciate is that the entire backend of the portal has been rewritten from scratch, in order to fix all the bugs and problems that developer has experienced in the latest months.
But let’s see in details which are the new major features.
The most important new features are related to the payment process: the first one is that now Paypal is accepted, both to pay subscription and to receive payments from Microsoft for apps selling.
The second great news is related to tax profile: if you live outside the United States the procedure to get paid by Microsoft was really tricky. In fact, in order not to be taxed twice (both from United States and from your country) developers have to fill a module called W8 and to send it: the procedure was really complicated, since it required to fill a lot of papers and send them by regular mail to a United States mailbox.
Now the procedure is extremely simple: a wizard will guide you filling all the required fields and the W8 module will be automatically sent at the end of the process. No more paper, no more regular mail, no more complex procedures. Awesome!
Important! If you’ve previously completed the tax profile with the regular procedure, you may not see it in the new portal: Microsoft is still migrating the old tax profiles, so you should see it in a couple of days. If you don’t want to wait (because, for example, you need to submit an application) you can simply send a new W8 module using the new wizard.
Another nice new feature is that now you’ll be able to set different prices for different market: previously, developers were able just to set one price, that was automatically converted to every country currency.
Last but not the least, the new portal now supports in-app purchase management: actually, you still can’t use it since it will be a new Windows Phone 8 feature, but the architecture is already in place for the future.
The report section of the portal has been improved with some new features: the first is a new filter, that allows you to see graph and statistics filtered not only by country and application, but also by type (paid, trial, free).
Plus, all the money reports have been grouped into a new section called My money.
Some new options to distribute your apps
You’ll immediately notice that the submit process has been totally changed: the interface is very different and also the required steps are in a different order. One thing you’ll notice is that the concept of private marketplace is gone: this way to distribute apps is still there, but it has a different name. Now you simply have an option called Hide from users browsing or searching the Store that you can enable when you choose to publish your app in the public store.
The second new feature is that now you can distribute your beta apps up to 10.000 testers (previously, the limit was set to 100).
In the end, Microsoft has added a new interesting option, especially now that the Marketplace has been opened to many countries: you can automatically choose to exclude from the distribution all the countries that have more restrictive policies about content. Previously, you were just able to pick one country at a time or simply to choose all the available countries.
What do you think?
The first impression with the new Windows Phone Dev Center is really good: AppHub was probably the weakest point in all the Windows Phone ecosystem; the submit process was tricky and the bugs and issues were really frustrating. Now everything is smooth, fast and fluid: and this is just the beginning, Microsoft has promised more improvements in the next months.
Before closing, I want to highlight a good news for all the owners of a MSDN subscription: soon you will get a free one year subscription to the Windows Phone Marketplace included in your subscription, just like it’s been recently announced and enabled for the Windows 8 Store.
If you want, you can read the full announcement about the Windows Phone Dev Center on the official blog of the team.