Windows Phone users have long been able to download apps directly from the phone or queue them up for download from the Windows Phone website, but Microsoft has added yet another way to install apps. Believe it or not, it is now possible to manually download the .xap files from the Windows Phone Store on your PC and install the apps via a microSD card on Windows Phone 8 devices.
The process is just as simple as it sounds. All apps on the Windows Phone Store now have a “Download and install manually” link in the details column. From there, simply copy the .xap file to a microSD card and insert it into any microSD-equipped Windows Phone 8 device. While the Nokia Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8X by HTC do not have microSD card slots, most other new devices do. To finish installing the apps, open up the Windows Phone Store on your device, tap SD card, and then hit Install. It’s that easy. The full details on the process can be found here.
Frankly, it’s surprising that Microsoft is allowing people to install apps manually, as some people might be worried about increased piracy. But it sounds like the Redmond-based company is getting around this issue by having the phone authenticate the app and ensure that it is the latest version before the installation process can be completed. Apps this fail this test will be listed under “Incompatible apps.”
While I can’t see myself using this feature a lot, it’ll probably be useful for many people.