Microsoft announces Windows Phone App Studio beta for new devs, loosens grip on unlocking phones

Today, Microsoft is making another effort to woo developers to Windows Phone, especially for those who are novices or who are located in emerging markets.

The latest change is two-fold and involves new online software for developers and a more lenient unlocking policy to sideload apps.The effort is to make it easier for developers to jump on board Windows Phone by lowering the cost and barrier to entry.

Windows Phone App Studio beta

App Studio is a web-based app creation tool that will allow developers to quickly write and publish an app to the Store "in just four easy steps". Developers will merely have to supply the information (or point the app towards it) and by using prefabricated templates, developers can quickly make a Modern UI app with data collection hosted for them in the clouds. Live Tile support is also enabled in this initial release and the tools are optimized for Internet Explorer 10.

In short, it’s meant as an alternative to Visual Studio, which is geared towards the more seasoned developer. Another usage for the web service is for experienced developers to quickly prototype an app, then export the code to Visual Studio for more advanced work.

Revised device unlock policy

Starting today, any non-registered developer will be able to unlock one device and side load up to two applications without the need to register or pay a fee (e.g. the typical $99 Dev Center registration). Once again, the change is to help facilitate new developers or for those who cannot afford the advanced tools.

In addition, we suppose this could also assist in the creation of more homebrew apps since in theory, any one of you can now unlock one phone and load up to two non-approved apps. That could be an interesting advancement for Windows Phone, one that we'll be watching closely.

More information can be found at the Windows Phone Developer Blog or by heading to the Windows Phone App Studio beta page:

Reminder: If you're already not part of the Dev Center, you can register now for just $19 USD instead of the usual $99. That offer will expire by August 27th, so don't forget!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.