Microsoft announced today that it is bringing together its Windows and Windows Phone developer programs. The commingling of both groups is a move by Microsoft to encourage developers to build for more than one of its supported device classes. It also represents another step in Microsoft’s effort to unify its platforms on top of a shared Windows core.
Microsoft now pitches Windows Phone and Windows as a package. The company has also combined the products’ marketing teams, likely helping to further unify their messaging and prevent crosstalk.
The Xbox One also leans on the shared Windows core. So, when that console is released, Windows will extend to your smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop and TV. Thus to see Microsoft bring together the Windows and Windows Phone developer groups is hardly surprising.
If you were a registered Windows Store developer, you can submit Windows Phone apps at no cost and vice versa. Microsoft has also lowered the price of registering to build for (now) both platforms. If you were already both a Windows Phone and Windows Store developer, Microsoft will give you a code for a free year-long renewal of your account.
The application ecosystem issue has long been the key issue holding Windows Phone back, and has become the largest issue with Windows 8.1, after Microsoft fixed a swath of usability plagues that made it frustrating to use Windows 8.
Therefore, Microsoft needs to eliminate all hurdles to building for its platforms. I noted above that the unification of the Windows and Windows Phone developer registration systems wasn’t surprising. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a smart move.