If you’re a developer, this piece of news will make you very happy. Microsoft now allows you to create private audience groups in the Dev Center. These groups will be visible only to the users you specify and will grant them access to apps that haven’t been launched in the Store yet.
No one else will be able to see that the product exists in the Microsoft Store, even if they somehow have a direct link to the Microsoft Store listing. This lets you validate the experience with the audience of your choosing, while keeping the product hidden from everyone else until you are ready to make the it visible to the public.
Specific tests mean better apps
Thoroughly testing your future apps is paramount if you want to make sure they’ll run as intended in production. The testing phase is critical for assessing your product’s quality and not having the apps visible to anyone allows devs to better focus on improving them.
These private groups use known user groups and developers can manage them directly in the Dev Center without republishing the app every time they add or remove someone from the group.
Most importantly, the reviews left by private group member are visible only in the Dev Center, they’re not listed in the Store.
How to use the Private Group feature in the Dev Center
You need to first select the known user group that you want to make your app visible to. Go to the Visibility section of the Pricing and availability page. You can then add additional group members at any time.
Keep in mind that the private audience feature is available only for new app submissions. You won’t be able to use it for apps that have already been published in the Microsoft Store.
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