The experience of publishing an application for video editing in the Microsoft Store



    At the end of last year, we shared the experience of promoting the free VSDC video editor to the Western market. A major milestone this year was the publication of the product in the Microsoft Store.

    About how it happened, how the process of publication and certification went, and what prospects we see, based on data obtained in 2 months, we will tell in this article.

    Why haven't we been able to get into the Microsoft Store for a long time?


    The first detailed story about the capabilities of developers in the Microsoft Store appeared on Habré back in 2012, when the platform was still called the Windows 8 App Store. At that time, free registration for software developers was closed and the system of invitations was valid. In 2016, the company announced a “bridge” , with the help of which you can independently pack an application for further placement in the Store.



    Since our video editor is optimized for Windows, we naturally became interested in this feature. However, the harsh reality quickly brought us down from heaven to earth.

    It turned out for such a small team as ours, and such a comprehensive solution as VSDC, the process of “packaging” of the program can become a stumbling block. At first, for example, conversion literally stalled at different stages. As far as we understand, the point was in the editor's optimization, and also in the fact that it has direct functions for working with a video card. Then we decided that the “bridge” was designed for less complex programs and postponed the conversion until better times.



    Now, when the application is already published, and we have detailed instructions in hand, we understand that everything is solved, and the task simply requires higher priority and additional resources. For example, Windows 10 Anniversary Update (10.0.14393.0 or later) Pro or Enterprise should be installed on your machine, plus a Desktop App Converter (DAC) is deployed, which, if you haven’t dealt with before, will have to dig a little.

    Details on how to pack an application for publication in the Microsoft Store are written here .

    It is interesting, however, that we didn’t find almost any (in truth, only one and found) a competitor that we consider equivalent to our product in terms of video editing capabilities. Moreover, in the spring of 2017, a journalist from the Petri publication contacted us, who confirmed in his article that we are far from the only ones who could not be accommodated in the Store due to difficulties during the packaging of the application.



    As a result, Intel helped us repack the editor.


    At the beginning of this year we were lucky. An Intel representative asked us to help us place the VSDC in the Microsoft Store.

    It turned out that there is a project called Centennial - the result of a partnership between Microsoft and Intel, designed to help useful applications get into the store. As far as we understand, one of the reasons why attention was paid to VSDC was the use of Intel technologies (Media SDK / FFMPEG) in our program.

    The help of the team of developers from the Intel Software Partner Program was just to convert our video editor - that is, to prepare the packaging, which we had to competently publish. Naturally, we could not miss such a chance.

    All that was needed on our part was to prepare binary program files and send them to the Centennial project team. The conversion process itself, as a rule, took no more than a day (taking into account the communication by email and the scatter of time zones), but we could not reach the final stage of publication for about a month. Below we will tell why.

    Preparation of the application profile through the eyes of the developer


    Before clicking on the cherished button of Publish, it is necessary not only to convert the application, but also to fill in the product profile in detail in the store itself.

    This is how 6 sections of the profile look like:



    • Pricing and availability allows you to select the markets in which the product will be available, and monetization. Total markets 242. For some of them, you can edit the cost. Optionally, you can also assign a trial period and a discount from the original price for a specific period to the application.

    In our experience, the discount (namely, its visual design) really stimulates a great purchase. It looks like this:



    • Properties . Here you just need to select the product category and set the system requirements, so that the user can immediately see if their PC corresponds to them.
    • In Age Ratings you have to fill out a questionnaire to get the age classification rating in different countries.
    • In the Package section , in fact, the packed .appx file is loaded.
    • Well, Store Listing - the seemingly simplest part, including a spreadsheet with a description of the product and screenshots, took us a lot of time.

    The file looks like this:



    Everything is filled, of course, in Excel. The required format is .csv comma separated. The screenshot should show that Excel cells are not very adapted for adding descriptions in three paragraphs. Especially if you enter information in 8 languages.

    In addition, in order to upload screenshots and logos, it is necessary for each of them to register the relative path from your PC. Our marketer Zina almost lost her mind while she figured out how to do it, although for a programmer, perhaps it would be a trivial task. As a result, those helped cope. support shop, which in general, by the way, was very useful and operational throughout the entire project.

    The first pancake is lumpy


    After all sections are filled, the application is sent for certification . At this stage, tests for security and compliance with the technical requirements of the platform, as well as a test for compliance with the contents of the application requirements of the store. Usually, the process takes up to 3 working days, but in our case it was a test lasting more than a week, following the results of which we were refused.

    We were refused because we did not provide for all the requirements for the content of the program.

    When you place an application on “foreign territory” for the first time, sometimes you do not know where to wait for problems. We wanted to publish a free version of the program and allow users to upgrade to the Pro version at will. Accordingly, in the program interface there were links to the upgrade, as well as banners telling about the benefits of a paid subscription. It turned out that this was a gross violation of the rules, since any updates, upgrades and payments should be made only through the Microsoft Store. Now we understand that this is of course logical.

    As a result, we have prepared a new build: deactivate all links that violate the rules, and decided to immediately publish a paid version of the editor with a 15-day trial period.

    It seemed that it was unlikely to foresee all the pitfalls when publishing a program to the store. Indeed, despite the detailed instructions from Microsoft, even the experienced Centennial team could not always immediately understand the reason for the rejection of the product. And it turned out that most often in unobtrusive details of design. For example, the fact that the system automatically specifies the name of the package without spaces, and the product name must contain spaces, delayed sending the program 5 times.



    Preliminary analysis


    2 months have passed since we published the VSDC in the Microsoft Store. We have not taken absolutely no measures to promote the product in the store itself and have not even announced a publication for users. However, from the very first days our product was found all over the world. In the first place, as expected, the United States. Further, with a large margin - Russia, France, UK.

    And let the numbers are still very small, they allow you to assess the future.

    The following reports are provided in the analytics section of Microsoft Store:

    • Application Acquisition (Acquisitions) - here shows the number of installations and purchases for a selected period of time. Conveniently, there is an acquisition funnel that shows the number of users from the page view to the program use stage. Plus, here is a breakdown by country and gender. Minus - there are no reports about how many people took down the program or requested a refund.



    • Usage (Usage) is a very useful report that shows how many users remain in the active category and continue to use the application over time. Here and the number of devices from which the application is launched, and the average interaction time, and cohort analysis.
    • Health (Health) shows how many falls and freezes over the past 30 days, as well as the type of errors recorded.
    • Fidbek (Reviews, Feedback) - rating and user comments.
    • Analytical report (Insights) - should show trends, but in our case there is not enough information.

    In addition, the platform provides opportunities for promotion: promo codes and advertising in the store. The first ones are a great option for distribution to beta testers, the press and individual user groups. The second is standard promotion through pay-per-click advertisements. The maximum monthly budget is $ 10K.



    There is another option "free advertising." If your application supports the format of embedded banners or interstitial ads, you can participate in the so-called "advertising from the community . " By accepting the conditions, you agree that the applications of other developers will be advertised in your application, and yours will be advertised in them.

    Perspectives


    Now we are working on the release of a new version of VSDC and already with it we want to start a more active promotion in the store. No effort is made to the current publication, and users find us themselves, despite the fact that we are very deeply hidden in the list of available video editors.

    According to our feelings, the presence of a product in the store allows you to reach the audience that otherwise would not pay attention to your product. This is a matter of habit and an element of trust.

    In other words, there are categories of people who are really immediately looking for products in the appropriate Store, and not in the Google search engine. And there is a considerable audience of users who, for security reasons, prefer to install only officially “approved” applications. The letters that we periodically receive from the second category of users only confirm this theory.

    In addition, Microsoft Store advertises our product in countries for which we simply do not have enough resources - for example, Japan, Finland. This is another significant plus.

    If you have experience of publishing and promoting your product in the Microsoft Store, tell us about it in the comments. We are still at the very beginning of the way and we will be happy both with recommendations and questions.

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