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Windows Phone, tablet (RT/Win 8.1), and traditional computers (RT/Win 8.1) will all share some common ground

Today, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) added some final details about its new "Universal Apps" program which will adds unified developer options across Windows Phone 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, and Windows 8.1 (smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops).
First off, Microsoft added a few new general options that app developers will surely appreciate.  For the previously announced unified developer registration (across the various Windows device platforms) it announced it will now accept a credit card alternative -- specifically eBay, Inc.'s (EBAY) PayPal.  It also now allows developers to reserve names of their upcoming apps up to 12 months in advance.
Second, it offered consolidated app options that make it easier for developers to deploy to multiple platforms and for consumers to partake in those various offerings.  Also included are a set of universal pricing tiers, which will allow customers to pay once and download a participating developer's app on all Windows platform.  Developers also have the option (and are encouraged) to make in-app content universal (so purchase on one platform and you'll get it on you installations on all your devices).
Halo Spartan Assault
Tired of getting stuck with low-res. downloads for apps you've already purchaed?  Microsoft's new Universal Apps let developers offer a single purchase that gives customers access to the highest definition app package on any compatible platform.

Looking ahead, this could provide Microsoft with a key competitive advantage over Google Inc. (GOOG) and Apple, Inc. (AAPL), which typically force you to rebuy apps on each new kind of device if you want the latest and greatest experience (iOS developers allows you to download previously purchased iPhone apps on iPad, but iPad-specific versions of apps require repurchasing).  
Even though Windows Phone's market share is virtually nonexistent, if customers can buy a Windows Phone and get access to most/all their favorite Windows 8.x apps for free, it seems many will be much more likely to take the plunge.
Developers have the ability to set one set of permissions and the app certification policies have been made homogenous across the various tiers.  To support a specific kind of device developers need only upload a "package" which will be available to download on compatible devices via the Windows/Windows Phone Stores.
The store will automatically select the appropriate package.
Windows Phone developers may wish to use the older Silverlight technology ("xap" packages, or *.xap files), which Microsoft is still clinging to, but with the latest and greatest Windows Phone 8.1, they now have the option to move to "AppX" (*.appx) style packages.  With AppX packages, developers can write a single app that is auto-customized for various platforms by Microsoft's APIs.  Obviously some developers will want to put in the extra work to specify explicitly optimal user interfaces for their app for each applicable screen size and input kind.  But for small businesses and casual app developers this is a potential game-changer.

IE 11 cross platform

Microsoft is now offering helpful reminders at submission time to prevent developers from forgetting to submit a privacy policy, a common (and frustrating) cause of rejection for first-time Windows/Windows Phone developers in the past.

Finally, Microsoft has redesigned its Dev Center for Windows and Windows Phone to offer better guides to creating apps for developers of a variety of skill levels.  And it has promised to cut down on submission times.

We'll have to see how well all of these things work out in practice, but as with the recent Windows 8.1 Update 1 (which added improved mouse and keyboard support), Microsoft definitely appears headed in the right direction.  In the long term it plans to integrate Xbox apps into its Universal Apps platform.  With the large Windows and Xbox market shares, it may be able to drive growth synergistically in the tablet and smartphone space.

Source: Windows Blog

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Universal pricing
By Alexvrb on 4/15/2014 9:57:41 PM , Rating: 3
I really hope all the major developers hop on the universal pricing bandwagon! I'd love to be able to download the same app on a phone, tablet, and PC, and see the best-optimized version for each one. Plus the option to allow in-app purchases to be global too? Might actually purchase something in an app, in that case.

So yeah, it's great that MS is enabling all this, but it's up to the developers now. Hopefully this will see widespread adoption.

RE: Universal pricing
By inighthawki on 4/15/2014 11:23:40 PM , Rating: 2
The primary thing that has kept me out of the whole mobile development sector is the massive limitations imposed on a lot of devices. Half the time I feel like a criminal. Needing developer licenses just to write and test apps on your own device, inability to sideload other people's applications (everything must go through the store), and requiring everything to be digitally signed. The WinRT API feels too sandboxed and has too much restricted access to Win32 functions - I want to be able to open a file handle to a random file without the use of the file picker!

I realize that a lot of this is for security reasons, but I don't really see why people cannot opt out of the ultra secure model to do things like sideloading unsigned applications.

I hope they relax some of the restrictions in Threshold. I do the vast majority of my programming at home for fun, but this kinda makes it feel like a job.

Not sure if anyone else feels the same way...

RE: Universal pricing
By cknobman on 4/16/2014 9:55:27 AM , Rating: 3
I attended build and was there for the keynote and sessions where they covered this.

It is an awesome feature and encouraged me to start developing for the Windows 8 platform (I am a business developer and had previously only done web, server, and pre Windows 8 app development).

In fact I am building my first universal app as we speak leveraging Windows Azure. :)

By sprockkets on 4/15/2014 10:21:02 PM , Rating: 3
Looking ahead, this could provide Microsoft with a key competitive advantage over Google Inc. (GOOG) and Apple, Inc. (AAPL), which typically force you to rebuy apps on each new kind of device if you want the latest and greatest experience (iOS developers allows you to download previously purchased iPhone apps on iPad, but iPad-specific versions of apps require repurchasing). - See more at:

I don't have to rebuy apps for each platform on android. I've installed many pay apps on 4 different tablets and phones. Unlike ios, I'm not limited to 5 installs either.

RE: huh
By inighthawki on 4/15/2014 11:11:11 PM , Rating: 2
I believe what they're referring to us the fact that you can purchase the app across platforms as well. The scenario you mention is still the same OS (Android) on both tablet and phone, so of course your android app will work on both. The goal of universal apps is to write once and have it on everything - phone, tablet, desktop, laptop, and future devices as well. It would be akin to your Android apps running natively on Chrome OS or iOS apps running on OSX.

RE: huh
By Alexvrb on 4/16/2014 11:41:54 PM , Rating: 2
You're reading it wrong (that's a pun, but it's also true to some degree). Yes, they're enabling greater cross-platform compatibility (build app once, runs on all versions of 8.1). But they're taking it further. Let's say that you make a third person shooter called BroDudes. Sweet! It runs on your phone. OK, it also runs on your brand new tablet... but it's the same exact app. Limited scaling. What about your laptop? What about a desktop a discrete card? How well do you think it is taking advantage of that hardware, graphically and functionally?

The idea is that you could launch multiple versions of your software that are slightly different for certain form factors, and users could purchase the app one time and get access to all versions. You could buy it on your phone and download the high-graphics version for a higher performance device (perhaps with a different UI and control scheme too) for free, or vice versa. There's even the possibility of syncing in-app purchases of additional content, game saves, etc.

Of course, they're just enabling the capability. It's up to developers to take advantage on a case by case basis.

So great...
By Riusaki on 4/21/2014 3:08:08 PM , Rating: 2
Except for one problem... Microsoft is behind it.

All this looks to me like GFWL 2.0. Instead of limiting to games they are doing it on everything. Also why is the Xbox not invited to the party? It's already known that the XB1 runs a full blown version of Windows 8.

This pipedream is once again going to be sabotaged by Microsoft with retarded restrictions, installation limits, Calling Home, etc. Exactly what GFWL was.

I loved the whole announcement of DX12 and how wonderful it is and how it's going to supercharge the XB1... in 2 years !?!?!?

Words without action are meaningless. MS needs to stop talking and actually do something that works.

Re: Market share
By smilingcrow on 4/21/2014 6:00:27 PM , Rating: 2
“Even though Windows Phone's market share is virtually non-existent”

That sounds US centric thinking. If you look at the rest of the world WP is quite successful in some countries and growing faster I believe.

Noone cares
By Nyanyanya on 4/15/14, Rating: -1
RE: Noone cares
By inighthawki on 4/15/2014 8:51:51 PM , Rating: 3
You're right. Why bother? Android shouldn't have even attempted to compete with iOS because it was the market leader. Linux and OSX should also just give up, because we don't need competition.

RE: Noone cares
By StevoLincolnite on 4/15/2014 9:08:08 PM , Rating: 3
People said that the iPhone wouldn't gain traction.
People said that Android wouldn't gain traction in the face of iPhones massive success.

It's not over until Microsoft exits the market.

RE: Noone cares
By dagamer34 on 4/15/2014 9:14:27 PM , Rating: 2
Even *if* Windows Phone never amounts to greater than 5% marketshare, you should still want competition because it drives other platforms to innovate faster. Plus, really great features from other operating systems get copied all the time. iOS Notification Center? Done in Android first *4 years prior*. Ability to launch camera from the lock screen? First done in Windows Phone. Card view multi-tasking? webOS. Gestures to move back a screen? BlackBerry 10.

No one should actively wish for the death of a competitor.

RE: Noone cares
By amandahugnkiss on 4/15/2014 10:17:19 PM , Rating: 3
Technical dolts who don't realize what potential this can have won't care.

Those who have learned that building nothing but mobile apps in an overpopulated market place may not pay the bills will care. Those who realize MS has made a sh1tl02d of money for a sh1tl02d of developers, them and said developers both will care. Everyone who developed apps for the desktop who can now have many more devices to release on with just a little extra work will all care. Since these people care so will customers who see what the advantages a connected platform can offer. Throw in the years of battle-worn security knowledge, an already huge customer base, and a nice head start in building a fully connected environment and you have what might be one of the best environments around (for both devs and end users).

Apple, Google, Intel, MS Shareholders, Yahoo, VMware, and <any other tech company> also care.

RE: Noone cares
By Labotomizer on 4/16/2014 11:32:51 AM , Rating: 4
Don't know why this is so hard for people to understand... Microsoft provides the entire stack like no other vendor does. From mobile to PC to hypervisor to database to messaging to collaboration to hosted infrastructure. Heck, they even provide ERP.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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