Sometimes Windows Phone users assume that the software experience is identical no matter where you use your device in the world, but that’s simply not true. More often than not, there are numerous features that aren’t available outside of a few select regions — Local Scout is one example. However, today Microsoft has reversed that trend by revealing a few China-exclusive features of the Windows Phone Store experience and how developers can take advantage of them.
On the official Windows Phone Blog, Mazhar Mohammed talks about various tweaks Microsoft has made to Windows Phone for the region. Of the changes, he revealed that Windows Phone 8 is the first major smartphone operating system to support Alipay for app purchases, an e-payment service similar to PayPal that is used by over 800 million people. We believe there are several third-party app stores for Android which support Alipay, but Windows Phone is the first to bake it directly into its own software,
Speaking of third-parties, Microsoft now offers the ability to sell apps in China through local app marketplaces such as MSN China, Sina, and Tencent (indicated with a ‘Sold By’ field as seen below). If we understand this correctly, it is a method to reinforce local support and possibly to skirt around a few of China’s regulatory laws as well. Mohammed says that when an app is purchased, the seller is listed on the payment receipt so customers can simply call for local technical support should there be any issues — that’s pretty neat if you ask us. Finally, Microsoft confirms that Xbox games are now available to purchase in China with full support for the mobile service’s features.
Meanwhile on the Windows Phone Developer Blog, Todd Brix has written a companion piece to shine on light on the huge potential these Store changes bring to developers. The fact that Windows Phone now supports Alipay could spur a surge of purchases over the next few weeks, and Brix advises that smart developers will rush to cross-submit their apps for sale in the region’s Store. Coupled with new Windows Phone 8 devices on sale with China Mobile and other local operators, app creators could be looking forward to a nice payday.
Microsoft should certainly be commended for Windows Phone’s malleability to support regional services. Considering how important China is to Nokia, Microsoft would be wise to keep this up and promote it aggressively.