This news comes at the same time as a rollout of an updated developer portal is underway. The new "App Hub" will support more geographic markets, private distribution options and will offer better application and account management capabilities.
More Countries, More Markets, More Languages
According to a Microsoft blog post, Windows Phone developers can now target 19 more countries, in addition to the 16 already supported. The new markets include:
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan.
Also new are developer markets in:
Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, South Africa and South Korea.
In addition, Chinese developers will be able to register in fall 2011, and registration support for India will be expanded at that time. Korean and Chinese will be added as new localization options for the revamped dev portal, too.
And, as Apple did recently, Microsoft says it's adjusting pricing tiers based on global currency exchange rates fluctuations. Developers with apps under $5 (US) will now have more flexibility in terms of pricing tier options, notes Microsoft. In-app advertising will expand to more markets, too.
Betas & Private Apps Supported, Better App Management and More
The updated App Hub will also include an interesting new feature: support for betas! App developers who want to distribute apps to limited audiences (up to 100) will be able to do so for up to 90 days before they are published publicly in the marketplace. Another private method of publishing will be supported, too, for developers who want to hide their apps, only making them available to those who have the deep link (the direct URL).
With Mango on the horizon, Microsoft is adding new app management tools for developers, which include the following:
- Better application management: By selecting 'Edit catalog details' on the app 'Lifecycle' tab, you can now change the app metadata without submitting your app for re-certification, thus reducing the time to update and publish new information.
- Enhanced developer dashboard: Now from a single location, when you sign in you can quickly see all top app performance metrics, payout status, distribution reporting and all available ratings & reviews on your app(s) on a per language basis.
- More detailed reporting: You are now able to select between 'Summary' and 'Detail' views of all reports and export them in an Excel-compatible format for offline data handling and analysis.
- New 'Crash Count' report: App Hub now enables you to retrieve data on crash counts and stack traces for each of your apps to use in debugging publisher updates faster.
- Streamlined application submission process: Developers no longer need to upload artwork files one-by-one. By clicking the 'Browse' button, developers can bulk select upload multiple artwork files all at once during the app submission process. The App Hub will automatically detect the image sizes of all artwork and place them in the correct artwork locations for developers to edit or delete before final app submission.
- New App Categories: To make discoverability of apps easier, Microsoft has added three new top level categories (education, kids & family and government & politics) and several new sub-categories. In addition, during the app submission process, developers can now select categories and sub-categories for all languages.
More info on all these changes is available here.