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Microsoft glues Windows 8, Windows Phone programming programs

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In a step toward creating a single, unified app store for both desktop Windows and Windows Phone, Microsoft has announced that developers can now register for both stores simultaneously using the same account.

Beginning on Wednesday, registered Windows Store developers can also submit apps to the Windows Phone store using their existing accounts, and vice versa, and new users who sign up will be automatically enrolled for both stores.

The change also lowers the cost for developers somewhat. Previously, an individual Windows Store developer account cost $49 per year, while an individual Windows Phone account cost $19 per year. Company accounts cost $99 for each store.

Under the new pricing model, companies still pay $99 per account, but because each account now works with both stores, companies that build apps for both Windows and Windows Phone effectively now save 50 per cent.

Individuals, on the other hand, now get the whole shebang for $19 per year, a 61 per cent discount on what Windows Store developer accounts used to cost.

So what if you were already paid up and registered for both stores? No problem – Microsoft says you will receive a code via email this month that's good for a free one-year renewal when your existing registration period runs out.

The move comes as Microsoft is reportedly working to merge the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store into a single experience for developers and customers, something sources say could happen as early as the spring of 2014.

In a post to the Windows App Builder Blog on Wednesday, Microsoft app store GM Todd Brix indicated that the transition is already underway in Redmond.

"Over the last month, we've brought the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store together into a single marketing and operations team to deliver a better experience for developers, end users and partners," Brix wrote.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft would love to see more developers building software for both Windows and Windows Phone, too. Brix said that in addition to unifying its developer programs, Microsoft has also launched two new challenges via the Nokia DVLUP program that allow coders to earn points toward prizes when they port an app from Windows 8 to Windows Phone or publish a new app for both platforms. Both contests run through December 31, 2013. ®

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