Windows Phone developers everywhere can now respond directly to user reviews of their apps, after Microsoft announced general availability of the feature. The company had previously launched this facility exclusively in the US, and only for reviews posted from Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 devices.
As The Next Web reports, the feature is now available for all developers via the Dev Center. Simply select the Windows Phone Dashboard in Dev Center, choose one of your published apps, and select "Reviews". You should then see an option to respond to reviews directly.
There are still some limitations though - while developers will be able to respond to any reviews sent by Windows Phone 8.1 users, they will only be able to reply to reviews submitted from Windows Phone 7 and 8 devices with Country/Region set to the United States.
Microsoft warns that when responding to reviews, developers should avoid "any marketing content or ads" in their replies. It also advises: "Dont include any profane, aggressive, personal or malicious comments in your response. Always be polite and keep in mind that happy customers will likely be your apps biggest promoters."
Microsoft also says that it "doesnt get involved if there are disputes between developers and customers", but it adds that the company "retains the right to revoke a developers permission to send responses for any reason."
Microsoft also announced that it has expanded availability of PayPal as a payout method for Windows Phone developers in five new markets - Cyprus, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Malta and Russia - bringing the total to 41.