Microsoft details Windows Phone 8.1 app submission changes, Dev Center improvements

You can now submit Windows Phone 8.1 and Universal Apps to the Dev Center

The Windows Phone Dev Center is now accepting submissions for Windows Phone 8.1 apps, along with Universal Apps, following the release of Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview. Along with this announcement, Microsoft has revealed a few new changes and improvements to the Dev Center app submission process.

"Today I’m pleased to announce the opening of the Windows Phone Dev Center for publishing your Windows Phone 8.1 apps and for linking your Windows and Windows Phone apps to create universal Windows apps. Today’s release also includes enhancements to address your feedback. We’re listening to your suggestions and identified a few areas to improve your experience with the Dev Center in this release," Microsoft stated in an official blog post.

During Build 2014, Microsoft revealed "universal apps" which allows developers to create apps that will work on all forms of Windows device without the need for changes to be made to code. As of today, you can now link your Windows Phone app with your Windows 8 or 8.1 app in the Dev Center. But that's not all - there are other new features and improvements to the app process as well.

Developers can also reserve names for new Windows Phone apps for up to 12 months in advance of release. On top of that, Microsoft is no longer requiring a credit card for identity validation during registration. Developers can even enable PayPal as a registration payment and renewal option.

Microsoft has also rolled out a consolidated and simplified price tier structure, which is applicable for paid apps and in-app purchase. This consolidated price tier structure also expands Windows developer opportunity with the addition of $0.99 and $1.29 (USD) price tiers to the Windows Store. App certification policies between the two Stores have also been harmonized.

The Windows Phone Dev Center now allows developers to continue using the Silverlight platform, updated with new features in the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK (package type: xap), or use the Windows Runtime platform to maximize code re-use across their apps for phones, tablets and PCs (package type: appx, appxbundle). Existing Windows Phone 7.1 or 8.0 apps will automatically be available for Windows Phone 8.1 devices, without any action by the developer.

In the near future, Microsoft will allow developers to set a specific date where a promotional price can be offered. Microsoft will also add touch-enabled device targeting: "You can define, during app submission, whether an app requires a touch-enabled device. If you indicate touch is required, your app will not be shown on the Windows Store Live tile and will be filtered from the ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Picks for You’ sections of the Store for non-touch devices," the company explained.

One big reason why apps fail certification is the lack of a privacy polity in the app listing data or Settings charm. Now, Microsoft has added a check to alert you to provide a privacy policy prior to submission. Microsoft will even automatically link the privacy policy in your app's Settings charm, if it is not already there.

On top of these changes, Microsoft has also rolled out an updated Dev Center design, hoping to make things easier for app developers. This design goes hand-in-hand with the drop in certification times, making the overall experience so much better.

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