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Beta testing your app and in-app products

April 14, 2014

Applies to: Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone Silverlight 8.1 | Windows Phone OS 7.1

Caution noteCaution:

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

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, we recommend that you release a beta version. In this topic, find out more about beta apps, in-app products, and how to submit them in the Dev Center.

When you beta test an app, you have a set of people try out the app before you release it to the general public. Using beta tester feedback, you can fix problems before your app is released. Your beta testers may discover issues that you’ve overlooked, such as spelling errors, confusing app flow, and even errors that could cause the app to crash.

Beta testing helps you release a high-quality app to the general public, which increases customer satisfaction. Plus, your beta testers — early adopters of your app — will be more likely to generate excitement about it.

Here are some advantages of offering a beta version of your app through the Dev Center:

  • Your app can support thousands of beta testers.

  • Your app 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.

  • Add or remove beta testers as you see fit. You don’t need to resubmit your XAP(s) to update your beta list submission.

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

To submit an app for beta distribution, you start the same way you would if you were submitting an app for publication in the Store.

Important noteImportant Note:

Windows Phone public and beta apps can’t share the same package identity name. Don’t associate a Windows Phone beta app with a published Windows Store app as it would make the Windows Store app become available to download for free.

Follow these steps to get your beta certified and out to your testers:

  1. In Dev Center, on the App info page, under More Options, click Beta.

  2. Let your beta testers know that your app will be available for review soon. They’ll need to have a Windows Phone and a Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID) that's associated with the email address you give us for them when you submit. This list of people forms the access control list (ACL) for your beta distribution, so only they can download and install the app. Note: When you add email addresses to the beta tester list, make sure they’re separated by a semicolon.

  3. Complete the App info and Upload and describe your XAP(s) steps of app submission, and then submit the app. After we’ve validated and published your app on the Store, we’ll send you an email that includes:

    • A link to your app.

    • The email addresses of people you added to the beta tester ACL when you submitted your app.

    NoteNote:

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

  4. Send the link we sent you in an email message to everyone on your beta tester list. You can also copy the link from the app’s Detail view in Dev Center.

    NoteNote:

    Beta participation is by invitation only, so your beta won’t appear in search results on the Store.

  5. When a beta tester gets the link, they can tap it on their Windows Phone and download your app from the Store. After the app has been successfully installed, each beta tester will run your app and test it to look for any issues.

  6. During beta testing, have an open dialogue with your testers and encourage them to send you feedback.

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.

NoteNote:

To make your app available for public release after the beta, you’ll need to resubmit the app.

In Dev Center, you can implement your in-app products during beta testing. This way, you can test to be sure your in-app products work properly. When you submit in-app products for apps in beta testing, consider these things:

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

  • An in-app product inherits the beta testers ACL from the app it’s associated with.

  • In-app products use the same access and control mechanism as apps.

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

To be certified for beta distribution, your app needs to meet the Windows Phone Store Terms of Use. If it doesn’t meet these terms, the developer account associated with the app will be suspended and the beta app will be revoked.

Beta apps do not 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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