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Hands-on: Windows 8.1's Windows Store refresh makes finding great apps far easier

Ian Paul | May 15, 2014
Microsoft delivered a Windows Store design refresh on Tuesday--one focused on making improving app discoverability. The new store update puts more featured apps front and center and makes it easier to navigate to the Store's top lists by placing a persistent navigation bar right at the top of the screen.

With the new Store update, Microsoft has also brought back the Spotlight section for featured apps and renamed it — you guessed it — Featured. This is one of the first sections you'll see on the Store's landing page. But the landing page is one of the few places you'll see the Featured section, since it's not part of the Top charts, Categories, or Collections menu options.

Microsoft says you'll also see featured apps on category pages, but as of this writing featured apps were only present on the landing page and the games category page.

Microsoft is also adding comparison pricing for sale apps, where you can see the original price with a red strike-through next to the sale price. This feature is not yet active, but will be rolling out to the updated Windows Store over the next few days.

Buy once, download everywhere

We spotted Halo: Spartan Assault functioning as a get once, download everywhere app on the Windows Phone Store in April. But on Tuesday, Microsoft highlighted this category of apps once again and included them in the Windows Store refresh.

These types of apps give developers the option of linking their Windows and Windows Phone apps. That way you can pay for an app once (including in-app purchases) on one Windows platform and download it for free on the other.

You can tell when an app is using the buy once, download anywhere option when it has a tablet and phone icon on the app's description page, as shown next to the purchase price of Halo: Spartan Assault above.

The new Windows Store update is rolling out now via Windows Update as part of Microsoft's regular Patch Tuesday security and new feature releases. If you haven't received the update yet, you can force the download by running Windows Update.


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