It was just this weekend that Microsoft unified pricing tiers to help make universal apps easier, and today they've opened the floodgates to developers and are now accepting Windows Phone 8.1 and universal apps for review. As a refresher, universal apps take advantage of new frameworks in Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 to allow developers to build apps once and deploy them across both platforms.
The unification of apps across platforms was announced at Build 2014, just two weeks ago. And with today's deployment of Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers, Microsoft is now accepting apps written for the updated OS. Developers will need Visual Studio Update 2 RC to develop said apps.
They'll be able to use the Silverlight platform, or the Windows Runtime platform so they can reuse code across platforms. When deploying a new package that specifically targets a new version of Windows Phone, the Windows Phone Store will now intelligently offer the appropriate version to users depending on which platform they're running on.
Developers can now link apps across the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store so users can buy an app once and have it installed everywhere. This even extends to in-app purchases — buy once, download and use everywhere. Notifications, too, are synced now through Windows Push Notification Service.
As mentioned earlier, developers will no longer need a credit card to register an account and submit apps, and instead can be paid via PayPal. Developers will also be able reserve app names in the Windows Phone store for up to 12 months before release (they've been able to do this for some time in the Windows Store). The Dev Center has also been redesigned to make it easier to find the documentation that developers need.
While that's a lot of updating, there's more to come — Microsoft has options for timed promotion pricing, pre-submission validation checks, and touch-device specific targeting on the way for developers. Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Phone 8.1 have kickstarted the need for changes to the Dev Center and developer tools, so it's good to see that finally happening.