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5 Key Upgrades to Microsoft's Windows Store

At Microsoft's Build in San Francisco, Corporate Vice President of Windows Web Service Antoine Leblond announced upgrades to the Windows store that will come with the Windows 8.1 update. Many of these new features are already offered by iTunes App Store and Google Play, but we're happy to see improvements in the Windows Store. Here's how the five major changes will affect your app experience.

1. Automatic App Updates
All apps will update automatically in Windows 8.1. This gets rid of the pesky notification badge at the top right of the App store icon and you will not have to be prompted to update your apps anymore, and also be assured that you are always running the latest version of your apps. iTunes and Google Play both offer this convenient ability.

2. Home page redesign 
The Windows store has undergone a slight redesign that changes the way Microsoft markets apps from its developers. The store's front page now features a Spotlight section that rotates featured apps. It also displays  lists of recently launched apps, popular apps and top paid and free apps. A great new feature is its personalized list of apps recommended for you based on apps you have purchased, similar to what iTunes does. This should help simplify the app discovery process. 

3. App description page redesign
Developers now get more real estate to showcase their apps, with the extra surface area given to display bigger and higher quality pictures and descriptions. That means you get more rich content and reviews about the apps you're considering downloading. 

A new "Related Apps" section also has been added to boost the marketing potential for developers, but this also means customers get a better sense of what other apps are available out there. This is a common feature that has existed on iTunes and Google Play for some time. 

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4. Bing-powered search results
The new Windows Store's search function will operate on Bing's engine, adding functionality such as searching for apps based on name, feature or content. The search also considers a user's purchase history and indicated preferences to display relevant results. 

5. Stored value and credit gifting functionality
User accounts on Microsoft now have the ability to store redeemable value, making it possible for people to buy Windows Store gift cards for friends and family. Cards and Windows Credit can be bought via third-party sites to be used as gifts similar to iTunes gift cards. The stored value will be used as the default payment method when available.