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(Pocket-lint) - Microsoft announced a new beta program for the Facebook for Windows Phone app on Tuesday, providing a sharp new design for the social-focused. The folk in Redmond are making the beta app available on the Windows Phone Store, but keeping it out of the search results because of its pre-release nature. 

Most notably, the app features a major redesign that brings about several much-needed features, including high-res photos, post sharing, and Facebook Timeline. In our short-time playing with the app on our Lumia 720, it now feels up to par with what's available on iOS and Android, minus a few bugs. Early reviewers on the Windows Phone Store agree, giving it five-star ratings and compliments like "much better layout" .One user said it needed more of a Metro influence, though.

As with the iOS and Android versions, sliding to the right with your finger will make the navigation appear to access the news feed, messages, nearby and pages. Sliding to the left will make Facebook Chat appear for communicating with your friends.

The existing Windows Phone 8 app (version 4.2.1) is still available. The beta version can even be installed side by side with the native version, but is being marketed only to those who don't mind bugs. 

Microsoft didn't provide word on when the final version of the new app would be available to users, but given the beta nature, we suspect after some testing it won't be long. Microsoft is hoping users will provide bug reports, feature requests and other feedback by going to Settings>About in the new app.

Writing by Jake Smith. Originally published on 30 April 2013.