Sharing download links to (hidden) HoloLens apps
The Windows store has a very neat feature. You can send out direct http links to people that, when entered, show and app directly in the web version of the store, with a neat button next to it to initiate install. For instance, if you hit this URL: https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9NBLGGH08D4P
It will take you directly to my app Map Mania.
Even more handy is that this also works with hidden apps, so you can submit early versions of your app to the Store as hidden - and only hand out the link to a limited number of people. The store has more advanced methods for distributing betas these days, but as a low friction and easy way to send your POCs to customers this direct link feature is still very useful.
Unfortunately, this little trick does not work for HoloLens. For instance, my very first HoloLens app in the Store - “AMS HoloATC” - is accessible via URL: https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9NBLGGH52SZP
It will actually show you the app, but it will also say “This app does not work on your device”. Even on a HoloLens.
The solution for this is pretty simple – don’t use the http link, but use a store protocol link. Thus, you enter in Edge: ms-windows-store://pdp/?ProductId=9NBLGGH52SZP
And this will open the Windows Store App at the right place. And a button to install the app:
So you simply paste the product id behind “ms-windows-store://pdp/?ProductId=” and you can once again share links to selected audiences.
Credits go to my fellow MVP Tom Verhoeff who suggested trying this in an online conversation this afternoon, when I wanted him to try and download my app to see if it was available already. Incidentally, feedback on the app is also appreciated. In it’s current form it’s a one man spare time project. A video will appear shortly, and I will also document in detail how it’s built. Stay tuned.