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In Blue: Windows Store 2.0

In Blue: Windows Store 2.0

Microsoft fixes the biggest user experience sin in all of Windows 8

Windows Store is one of the biggest user experience disasters in Windows 8 today, an absolutely worthless way to discover new apps and games. But good news, Windows fans: Microsoft is indeed fixing this mess in Windows 8.1, and the new version of the Windows Store is both attractive and usable.

What a difference.

As a reminder, today’s Windows Store is terrible, with a panoramic user experience that seems to stretch on horizontally into the next time zone. Yes, there’s a semantic zoom feature for navigating to far-off content areas, but it’s undiscoverable.

Worse, when you actually do navigate into a content area, like Games, you find an even more worthless grid of tiles that, yes, also stretches off, unimaginatively, far past the limits of your patience and sanity. (And they're not even tiles, with any live feature. They're just dull, dead icons.) It’s like Microsoft designed the store to work with 100 or fewer apps only.

Well. Behold Windows Store 2.0.

In this new vision of the Store, everything isn’t lumped on one screen. Instead, the default Store UI is divided into a limited number of useful sections: Special Offer, Picks for You, Popular Now, New Releases, Top Paid, and Top Free. That’s it.

And the currently ridiculous app bar has been replaced with one that’s truly useful, providing Home and Your Apps buttons, as before, plus a new Your Account button and—wonders of wonders—a way to navigate to any Store content area. Because it’s in the app bar, it will work from any Store view. Simple. Obvious. Brilliant.

The new Store can automatically update apps—a no brainer, and I have no idea why this wasn’t an option originally. (Store 1.0 could only download app updates automatically, not install them.)

And best of all in this feast of improvements, when you navigate into a content area—again, like Games—you don’t get a sea of tiles. You get an attractive, well-designed layout.

I have no idea what took so long or why this needed to wait for Windows 8.1. But I’m stoked that Microsoft is finally fixing this. Bravo.

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