A number of changes are being rolled out over various global territories, addressing branding, searching, and discovery.
The most noticeable change to customers is likely to be the change of name of Microsoft's 'App Store', Windows Marketplace is being replaced with the more friendly 'Windows Phone Store', and will share its look and feel of the iconography and layout with Windows 8.
The search box will now be 'smarter' thanks to the adoption of Bing as the search engine, which will help deliver better results in the case of spelling mistakes, and semantic searches around the app names or genres. Search queries and results will also be remembered by Bing, delivering more accurate results over time.
The lists of 'Top', 'New', and 'Free' in each category will be tweaked to read 'Top Free', 'Top Paid' and 'New and Rising' to aid understanding, and a new list called 'Best Ranked' which "ranks apps based on customer ratings and actual usage patterns for a more nuanced picture of what’s great."
Initially these new lists will be visible in the Web based version of the Phone Store, with the lists appearing on new handsets before the start of 2013.
The blog also notes changes to the visibility of 'adult' applications, tools for users to report app issues to Microsoft, and the presentation of user reviews in the Store.
The changes Microsoft has detailed are another step in the evolution of the App Store for Windows Phone, and continue to draw Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 closer together for the consumer. I suspect that many changes have been tested extensively on regular users and it's nice to see more 'plain english' being used.
With more than 100,000 apps now published for Windows Phone, search and discovery is a key area to build on. The media place a strong emphasis on the number and quality of applications, as do consumers, so it's vital that Microsoft continue to improve the experience for everyone involved.