Microsoft looking to push for Windows and Windows Phone Store unity

Microsoft has long had a vision to unite its stores for both Windows and Windows Phone, as well as content that's populated in both catalogues. This hasn't quite been the case yet, even though it's well known that the company is driving forward in pulling its platforms closer together. The launch of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 definitely reflects this.

A recent job offering at Microsoft for a Software Developer Engineer in Test (SDET) reveals that the company is indeed pushing forward with the idea that apps can run on multiple platforms under the Windows umbrella. The listing asks, "Do you wish the code you write for Windows Store apps would just work on the Windows Phone and vice versa?" Quite the direct one, we know.

Here's the full description:

"Are you excited about Windows Phone? Are you passionate about delivering the best possible experience to the developer community? Do you wish the code you write for Windows Store apps would just work on the Windows Phone and vice versa? If so, then this is the role for you! We are the team leading the charge to bring much of the WinRT API surface and the .NET Windows Store profile to the Phone.We are looking for a highly motivated and technically strong SDET to help our team bring together the Windows Store and Phone development platforms. As a member of our team you will have a variety of responsibilities including designing and automating new tests, adapting existing automation and frameworks to the Phone, and building test framework components that will be used by many teams throughout Windows Phone.You will have an opportunity to sharpen your cross-team collaboration skills by working with many people in the Windows and Phone orgs. You will work closely with your developer and PM counterparts to solve the technical challenges of bringing a platform built for desktops and tablets to the phone form factor."

That really does say it all. The company is homing in on the goal to bring its Windows Store and Phone development platforms together. The only question remains is when can we expect to see this happen? For the time being, apps created for Windows Phone cannat be released on Windows without some modifications being made. The mobile platform has over 150,000 apps available.

We believe that the set of "Blue" updates set to arrive this year will create the bridges required for apps to be loaded on both laptops / desktops as well as Windows Phones. It'll certainly please developers to see their app available to a wider audiences, especially a platform as popular as Windows. We'll be keeping our eyes open in the near future for anything that pops up.

Source: Microsoft, via: WMPU

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Awesome
  • Can't wait
  • Hopefully it doesn't turn out like BB playbook apps on BB10...
  • Great to hear, but the first sentence of this article doesn't really make much sense, since the Windows store is only a few months old. I would guess its conception was only a few years ago, too.
  • Shouldn't this be fairly straightforward because of the shared kernel both platforms have?
  • Not as straightforward as you'd think, I imagine there will be some form of emulation to begin with...
  • Win RT and WP8. It will definitely make the Surface RT more formidable in the marketplace. Unless you REALLY needed those x86 apps with you at all times, the RT would really shine. Then I think you'd see Nokia and others jump on the RT bandwagon.
  • Right now windows 8/RT uses new API set called  Win RT  which is a subset of the API thats used for WP8 app development so if u have a WP8 app its it takes abt a day or two to get it running in win8 or vice versa. No emulation needed.
    u can create one app (backend/logic) and have diffrent UI (XAML's)  for wp8 and win8/rt , the only down side been they still have to be created as diffrent projects in VS. I think this is whats been addressed , so that in the future u can jus creat on project instead of two sperate once with the same underlying code.
  • yeeees Finalllly make it happen
  • They hired me. I'm a secret Android mole, I'm going in there to sabotage the whole network. There are thousands of us walking among you. How well do you know your neighbor? Slow news day!!
  • Don't even play like that!!
  • You think it's a coincidence Android doesn't run as smooth as WP no matter what they do to it? Think again.
  • that is nokia fault :D
  • Its got to happen.  Its the only way for WP8 get the apps it deserves. 
  • And vice versa, perhaps even more so.  I have a WP8, a Surface RT, and several W8 computers.  Guess which App Store I spend most of my time in.  WP by far.
  • I don't know if anyone is tracking this, but I think Windows 8 app store is growing much faster than the Windows Phone 7 app store did at launch. Not sure which app store is growing faster currently.
  • I agree. At the moment developers can justify not making apps for WP cause the numbers just aren't there. If they were writing for W8 and WP at the same time, they have no excuse to not bring there apps to us. It seems like a way for Microsoft to finally "push" developers our way
  • Not to be a negative Nancy, but this was the convergence that most of us had been anticipating for two years already.  The W8/WP8 release this fall was supposed to realize this.  MS needs get this done befor the end of 2013.  I'm having a hard time explaining to friends and family why they have to buy Angry Birds twice.  (I know Angry Birds is dumb, I'm just using it as a popular example).  Heck, Skulls of the Shogun is a perfect example.  $5 on phone, $10 on tablet, and $15 on Xbox.  As it is, I only have the $5 phone purchase.  If they provided the option, I would gladly pay $10 to have it on both phone and tablet.  MS and the developer loose money here.
  • Since I don't want to just bitch without offering ideas. First of all, unify the API's. I know phone and tablet/PC will always be different, but a lot of stuff should be handled the same way in code. Some of the launcher/chooser API's are needlessly different between RT and WP, especially Contacts. In fact, just implement the same Contracts paradigm from W8 into WP8.5 or "Blue" or whatever you call it. Also, you cannot tell developers to use Nokia Maps in WP but Bing Maps in RT. As far as pricing and licensing goes, I say create a framework that lets the developers choose. If they really want separate prices and licenses for the three platforms (phone, PC, Xbox), then let them. But smart devs will opt for shared pricing. Using Skulls as an example, I would have gone with a cascading price whereby $5 gets you phone, $10 gets your phone+tablet, and $15 gets you all 3. So essentially you pay for the highest platform you want to play on, and get access to it on the lower platforms for free. Who knows what the best formula for consumers and devs is, so leave it up to devs to figure out. Devs should like this since it gives them more control than they have in Android or iOS. And finally, why the HELL do devs have to pay for TWO different store licenses? When you desperately want devs to make cross platform apps you cannot require them to have separate accounts and licenses for Windows Phone Store and Windows Store. As a dev myself, I really hope MS takes concrete steps toward these soon.
  • Regarding buying apps on 3 platforms: How is it any different that you have to buy an app separately for iPhone, iPad, and Mac OS? At least on the Windows side the tablet and PC use the same apps and only have to be purchased once. I think the smartest way they could handle it is for developers to be able to provide an unlock code with the Xbox or PC version purchase of their game/app that automatically unlocks the phone version. This would boost downloads on the phone store since anyone who purchase an app on Xbox or PC would get the phone version for free. It would also serve as a constant reminder to Android/iPhone users that if they had a Windows Phone they would be getting these XBLA games available for free. How does Apple handle publishing for iPhone, iPad, and Mac OS stores? Do the developers have to get separate licenses for each store.
  • Unless specifically made for the iPad, all iOS apps can be installed on both the phone and pad.  So they're ahead of Microsoft in that regard.  However, if MS can unify WP and Metro apps, they would leapfrog iOS (more than just achieve parity).
    Unified apps and the growing install base of Win8 (tablets, notebooks, desktops) could really inflate the number of apps in the Windows Store.  Of course, the current storefront(s) makes all of those apps impossible to find, but that's a complaint for a different thread.
  • I was pretty upset when I realised that I had to re-buy Angry Birds Space and StarWars when I upgraded from phone 7.5 to phone 8. I know it is not related but it seems like MS is punishing me for upgrading to their newest offering.
    Skulls of Shogun boats of across the platform playability, but at what cost? I am not rebuying the game on the phone and then again on desktop. As far as I am concerned, it is just a windows phone game for me.  
  • Really? I didn't have those two specific games, but I didn't have to re-buy any of my games or apps.
  • Well, it has bothered me that if I buy a game on Windows 8, I won't be able to play it on my phone without buying it again... and vice versa. For the 360 as well.  I already bought a bunch of pinball FX games on my Xbox, but I'm not going to rebuy those same tables just to play it on my PC.  I really wish this 3 screens and a cloud would come to apps and games (not just movies and music) as long as the resolution and specs support them.
  • I just hope you can buy once and play all.  I dont think it is necessary for me to have to buy each platform seperately when MS is saying that they are trying to do a one screen three device strategy. 
    I am cheap as well. 
  • This would the best thing to happen, ever! Imagine a game like Skulls of Shogun. Buy once and play on your Windows device of choice - Phone, Console, PC. Very excited for this!
  • Do you guys realize what this is ?? This is MS ingenious solution to WP being behind in the app department. But, the potential here is extremely huge, and MS has put a lot of thought into this.. This is so huge that it could potentially lead to WP having well over a million apps, and greatly surpassing both iOS, and Android, marketplaces. The fact that, in time, W8-Wxx will be running on the larger percentage of the worlds computers, and the amount of apps available for W8-Wxx will be endless, has to be why MS wants total synergy between these platforms.. That's got to be MS theory at lest, and If they are right, and this works out, then this will be huge beyond belief!! Lets keep our fingers crossed that this all happens in a timely manner...
  • Honing in. Homing in don't make no sense worth nothin'.
  • Ok, paying one price for both platform is one thing but i really miss the ability to link a w8 and a wp8 app (eg same settings, etc). And yes wp8 needs the contracts from w8 (sharing, file picker etc)
  • It is already possible to use code from a Phone app project on Windows 8/RT. Both SDKs are based on almost the same framework. Code sharing will be made easier but don't expect that you can share apps! Microsoft is the only large player who understands the difference between a phone (one hand use) and a personal computer (multiple hands, mouse + keyboard). They will not make the same mistakes that Google and Apple will have to solve on their platforms.
  • Very minimal and not possible if you use JavaScript and html, nor do they apps have the same guid or store. So if you are copying and pasting a few lines of code then ok.
  • Windows 8, RT, phone and Xbox should share the same apps.
  • Will this link the xbox360 as well?
  • This needs to happen.
  • This would be glorious!
  • Hopefully this means if you buy a app on wp8 u get the windows 8 app at the same time. If it's the same app.
  • They need to get this out fast.
  • And how!
  • I thought it was suppose to be like that in the first place.. Im waiting for this to happen...
  • The Link to Microsoft is dead.. why did they take site offline?
  • This should have been there at launch, since they built windows rt from scratch they should have already planned this.
  • If all three of these are implemented, Microsoft would have a killer ecosystem: Unified apps between mobile and metro (RT and pro).  Perhaps the console too. Cloud saves for bouncing between platforms. Family accounts, so one purchase can be installed on more than one phone. Yes, I know that you can tie each phone to the same live ID to share apps, but then all the phones are using the same gamertag and have troubles messaging each other.  
    Skulls of the Shogun shows us that #2 is already possible.  This article shows that #1 is in the works.  Now we just need #3 to happen to complete the circle.  Make it so.
  • Windows Blue is Microsoft biggest "SP1" Service Pack updates ever with unification of Windows 8! NT6.2 - Windows 8 SP1 "Blue"
    - Windows 8 RT SP1 "Blue"
    - Windows Phone 8.1.x "Blue"
    - Windows Server 2012 R2 "Blue"
    - Xbox 360 v2.0.2x "Blue" Can't wait! :)
  • I think ms should drop win rt when intel haswell's released. So then they can focus more on other platforms.
  • This makes perfect sense. I mean, when you slide a "Metro" app over to occupy 1/4 of the screen, what you're basically getting is a "Phone view" anyway. It makes sense that Windows Phones should just be able to run any app in this mode so little to no coding changes are needed to make a Start Menu app run on the phone.
  • I thought the whole idea behind the new kernel was supposed to already allow a super easy porting experience between MS platforms for developers???  So why isn't it happening already??? 
  • and if MS would release a sort of apps emulator also on Windows 7, it could have apps running on 1 bilion + devices