Microsoft has rolled out a range of new features overnight across both the Windows Store for PC and tablet, as well as its Outlook.com webmail service.
A major new feature of the upgrade is the ability for users to buy selected apps once for all their Windows devices, with eligible apps highlighted with a special icon.
For example, if a user purchases an eligible app on a PC running Windows 8.1, they will also be able to download that same app on their Lumia smartphone or Surface tablet without paying a second time.
While the cross-platform apps, known as ‘Windows universal apps’, do not initially include downloads for the Xbox, Microsoft has said it will add this functionality in the future.
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For app developers, the tech giant has published a guide on how to develop and link cross-platform Windows universal apps.
Another new feature of the upgrade is the introduction of a number of curated app ‘collections’ on the home page of a Window Store, including a ‘red strip deal’ collection containing six apps each week with a discount of at least 50% off their regular price.
The upgrade also introduces a persistent navigation bar that sits across the top of the screen that is designed to make it easier to navigate between categories, collections, account information or the store home page.
For app developers, the upgrade adds the ability to put apps “on special” for a limited, predetermined amount of time. On the app details page, the discount will be marked with a big red slash through the regular price, with the discounted price written in red underneath.
Alongside the new features, Microsoft has also issued developers with new policy guidelines around categorising, naming and creating icons for apps designed to end confusion for end users. For example, under the changes, naming a game guide app “Game Guide for <Game>” will be acceptable, but “<Game Name> Game Guide” will not.
Alongside the Windows Store changes, the tech giant has announced it is adding an advanced email filtering system, similar to the desktop Outlook app, to its Outlook.com webmail service.
The Outlook.com upgrade will also allow users to undo accidentally deleted emails, and sort their contact lists by the social media or mobile messaging services they use.