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Beta testing your app and in-app products

Applies to Windows Phone

No matter how carefully you test your app, there’s nothing like the real-world test of having other people use it. Before you put your app in the Windows Phone Store, consider releasing a beta version.

When you beta test an app, you let a set of people try out the app before it’s released to the general public. Your beta testers may discover issues that you’ve overlooked, such as misspellings, confusing app flow, or errors that could cause the app to crash. You’ll have chance to fix problems before you publically release the app, resulting in a more polished final product.

Here are some advantages of offering a beta version of your app through the Windows Phone Store Dashboard:

  • Your beta app can support up to 10,000 testers.

  • Your beta will go through an automated certification process, and will be available in a few hours.

  • Beta distribution is free and doesn’t count against your submission credits.

  • You can update your beta at any time.

  • You can add or remove beta testers as you see fit. You don’t need to re-upload your app packages to update your list of testers.

  • Your beta app can be tested on retail devices that don’t need to be unlocked, and testers don't have to be registered developers.

Submitting a beta app is very similar to submitting an app for general publication through the Windows Phone Store Dashboard. Follow these steps to get your beta certified and out to your testers:

  1. Sign in to the Dashboard, go to Submit app>App info>More Options, and click Beta.

    Important noteImportant Note:

    Your beta app can’t have the same package identity name as a public Windows Phone app. Don’t give your beta the name you want to use for the final, public app.

    Important noteImportant Note:

    Don’t associate a Windows Phone beta app with a published Windows Store app. Because beta apps are free by default, associating your beta with a published Windows Store app will make it available for free as well. See Create your app info for more on naming and app association.

  2. Identify your beta testers. They’ll need to have a Windows Phone and a Microsoft account email address (formerly called a Windows Live ID). Add your testers’ email addresses to the beta app’s access control list (ACL) using the text box in the More Options>Beta section. The ACL controls who can download and install your beta app.

    NoteNote:

    When you add email addresses to the ACL, make sure they’re separated by a semicolon.

  3. Complete the App info and Upload and describe your package(s) sections, then submit the beta app. After your beta is validated and published, you’ll receive an email that includes:

    • A link to your app in the Windows Phone Store.

      NoteNote:

      Your beta app won’t appear in Store search results. Anyone who has access to the beta app link can see the beta app’s Store listing info, but only testers on your beta’s ACL will be able to download it.

    • The email addresses of the testers you added to the ACL during app submission.

      NoteNote:

      You can change the list of beta testers at any time by submitting an update.

  4. Send the link to your beta app to everyone on the ACL. This link is stored in the app’s Detail view in the Dashboard.

  5. When testers get the link, they can open it on their Windows Phone and download your beta app from the Store.

You can submit as many apps as you’d like for beta testing. Submissions are completely independent, so you’ll need to maintain the list of testers yourself and provide it each time you submit a new beta app.

NoteNote:

To make your app available for public release after the beta, you’ll need to complete a separate app submission. You can’t convert a beta app into a public app.

From the Dashboard, you can add in-app products to your beta. This lets you test to be sure your in-app products work properly. When you submit in-app products for a beta app, consider the following:

  • In-app products submitted for beta apps are in the beta only.

  • An in-app product inherits the ACL from the app it’s associated with, and will only be available to testers on that list.

  • Your app’s beta testers don’t pay to test your in-app products.

NoteNote:

You can only use in-app products in Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 apps.

Beta apps don’t expire, so you can keep your beta running in parallel with the real app for continued feedback from the beta community. However, you can unpublish or delete your beta app at any time, ensuring that new users cannot download the app.

NoteNote:

If you wish to restrict the usage of the beta app after your beta testing phase is over, you must build support for that in your app. Otherwise, beta testers that already have your app installed will be able to continue using it even after you unpublish or delete the app.

Your beta testers will need:

  • A Windows Phone to install and test your app.

  • A Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID). To create an account, go to Microsoft account setup.

Beta apps can’t be priced. All apps submitted for beta distribution are made available as free and fully licensed.

If you’re having issues with beta distribution and need help, contact us through Dev Center support.

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