Windows Store news: Microsoft updates Film & TV app for PC, phone, HoloLens

Updated video app lets you control playback between devices

The Windows Store – also known as the Microsoft Store – is the official digital download store and marketplace for Windows apps.

It is the primary means of distributing Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, which are compatible with desktop, mobile and server versions of Windows.

Apps for Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows Server, and Xbox can be downloaded from the Windows Store.

In this article, you will find all the latest news about Windows Store updates and services and apps related to it.

Windows Store news

15/07/2016: Microsoft has updated its Movies & TV app for PC, smartphones and HoloLens to give users more control.

Ellen Kilbourne, community manager for Groove and Movies & TV at Microsoft, shared information about updates to the Windows 10 video app (known as Film & TV in the UK) on Twitter.

Users can soon control the Movies & TV app from their Xbox One console – provided they are running Xbox Preview software, using the Xbox app on from their PC or phone.

When returning to a partially watched video, the app now asks if users want to restart from the beginning or continue from where they stopped last time.

Search has been boosted, so users can now see Store search results too. Users will be able to access Store content faster, and will aid console users who are only using the Movies & TV app to playback store content.

Microsoft notes that some users may “notice that search results aren’t as high quality as they have been in the past within the Store app”. It said this issue is known and is being addressed.

The update will be available first to Windows Insider Fast ring users.

12/07/2016: Rovio is no longer developing Angry Birds titles for Windows platforms, according to a new report.

When Angry Birds 2 debuted in July 2015, some customers were concerned that the game was not available for Windows 10 or Windows Phone.

Now a customer representative at Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, has responded to a customer query about new games and updates for Windows PCs and phones, saying that the company is not planning on developing any more titles for these platforms.

The Rovio representative said the company will only be focusing its support and updates on Android and iOS platforms, Windows Central reports.

Several Angry Birds titles are still available on the Windows Store for Windows 8.1, including Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds: Star Wars. None of these titles have been updated for Windows 10’s UAP, though.

The Swedish developer’s retreat from Windows comes after it cut more than 200 jobs late in 2015.

Angry Birds was once the king of the mobile gaming market. However, in the fast-changing mobile arena, it since been dethroned by the likes of Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, and just this week, Pokémon Go.

05/07/2016: Microsoft’s cross-platform gaming service, Xbox Play Anywhere, will launch on 13 September, according to Polygon.

The new service, announced during Microsoft’s E3 2016 press briefing, allows Xbox and PC players to purchase and play selected titles across both the home console and Windows 10 PC.

As well as the ability to play the game on either device, players’ progress will be tracked, along with their game achievements, and any DLC they have purchased will be made accessible on both devices.

The service requires users to have the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition update installed on their PC and the summer update installed on their Xbox One, both due this August.

Titles that support the Xbox Play Anywhere service will be listed on the official site, and display the Play Anywhere icon in the online store.

Games that will support Xbox Play Anywhere include Ark: Survival Evolved, Crackdown 3, Cuphead, Gears of War 4, and Halo Wars 2.

17/06/2016: Windows Store apps face removal if they are not updated for the International Age Rating Coalition’s (IARC) rating system, Microsoft has warned.

Microsoft has alerted developers that they must update their apps to comply with the new rating system by 30 September, 2016, Neowin reports.

The new IARC rating system was introduced by Microsoft at the start of the year as a way to simplify the age rating process.

Previously, developers had to manually choose ratings from different regional bodies, including the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) for North America, Pan European Game Information (PEGI) for Europe and the Classification Board (ACB) for Australia.

The new process will automatically assign an age rating to a developer’s app when they submit the application for listing on the Windows Store.

Developers are required to fill out a questionnaire about their app, choosing a category for it – such as Social Networking or Games – and state whether the app contains offensive language, violence, explicit images and so on.

The scheme launched in January this year, but not all developers and publishers have made the changes to their apps.

Some users have pointed out that there are lots of “abandoned apps” on the Windows Store, so Microsoft’s impeding removal my have the added benefit of giving its store a necessary clean.

14/06/2016: Microsoft has announced a cloud-powered initiative to unify the games across its Xbox One family and Windows 10, allowing players to purchase, play and continue their progress across both devices.

The Xbox Play Anywhere programme allows players to buy a game once, and play it on both their Windows 10 PC and Xbox One system with shared progress, game saves and achievements.

As part of the announcement at the Xbox E3 2016 media briefing, Microsoft said every one of its first-party exclusives, published by Microsoft Studios, shown will support the programme.

Many games had previously been announced as Xbox One-only  releases will now also come to Windows 10 as part of the initiative.

Xbox One and Windows 10 games that will be included as part of the service include: Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Halo Wars 2, Sea of Thieves and Scalebound.

Additionally, Microsoft announced further changes to its Xbox Live service, adding groups and a dedicate tournament platform. The company also revealed its intention to release a more powerful Xbox console, codenamed Project Scorpio, during the 2017 holiday season.

24/05/2016: Game downloads are higher on Windows 10 than Windows Phone, says dev

Windows 10 game sales are far higher on desktop than they are on mobile, according to a game developer. 

On Microsoft’s developer blog, Game Troopers’s chief operating officer Alex Rodriguez said though its initial Windows Phone game, Tiny Troopers, did help it achieve $1 million in its first month on the platform, desktop has now become its primary focus.

Windows Phone helped “validate our business model”, said Rodriguez, but, since then, the figures for desktop downloads of its latest release, Overkill 3, have far surpassed that of the handset version.

“The launch of Windows 10 has allowed Game Troopers to publish more of its titles on desktop PC and tablets, and it’s seeing the benefits. For example, the shooter Overkill 3 has received 2,000,000 downloads on Windows 10 PC compared to 90,000 downloads for Windows phone,” Rodriguez's blog post explains.

Microsoft has been struggling to convince consumers, and in turn developers, that its Windows Phone platform is a competitive alternative to market leaders iOS and Android. This week Gartner estimated that 2.4 million Windows Phone devices were sold in the first quarter of 2016, accounting for less than one per cent of the total smartphone market.

With such a slim user base, lower download figures for the Windows Phone versions of Windows 10 games is almost assured.

On the other hand though, Game Trooper’s Rodriguez points out that Microsoft is driving greater sales of its titles through cross-promotion, and by featuring in the best titles category, which he said has given his games a significant boost.

“Our most powerful tool for driving downloads is to get featured in the Windows Store,” said Rodriguez. “Microsoft features our games constantly. We can get the maximum awareness for our games very easily; this cannot be achieved on iOS or Android.”

Following the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft has been making strides to unify the availability of games on its platforms, as well as attempting to regain favour in the PC gaming market – which has been better served by likes of Steam and Quantum Break and Forza Motorsport 6, which were previously only available on Xbox One, are two major titles that it has recently to PC for Windows 10 users.

23/05/2016: New-look Windows Store previewed for insiders

Microsoft has revamped its Windows Store for its fast ring insider, a preview of the version that is expected to be released with Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

Following the release of the new store, insiders reported a number of bugs. Microsoft has reportedly fixed the problems, and the update is now available for insiders to manually download.

The redesigned Windows Store reportedly runs faster – a single click now takes you to the page you seek. The categories and arrangement of the apps have been organised clearer with new individual app listings page design.

This new Windows Store redesign is the first visual revision Microsoft’s digital download store has received since the launch of the Windows 10.

However, users are already calling for further improvements, such as the lack of a wishlist and downloads no longer displaying file size.

Microsoft has a host of improvements planned for its Windows 10 Anniversary Update, including new-look Start menu, and additions to Microsoft Edge browser.

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