Microsoft today announced major updates to the Windows Dev Center and Windows Phone Dev Center, with the former rolling out “later this week” and the latter arriving “later today.” While Microsoft says many of the enhancements address feedback from developers, the big additions are support for universal Windows apps and Windows Phone 8.1 apps.

Microsoft explains developers can now link Windows Store and Windows Phone apps to create a universal Windows app to provide a “get once and download for all compatible Windows devices” customer experience, which the company hopes will increase both paid and free app downloads across device types. The linked app experience extends to durable in-app offers that use the same identifier in both Stores.

halo universal 3D490785 Microsoft starts accepting developer submissions for universal Windows apps and Windows Phone 8.1 apps

Microsoft first announced universal Windows apps for PCs, phones, and tablets earlier this month at its Build 2014 conference. This past weekend, the company rolled out pricing changes to bring its Windows and Windows Phone stores closer together.

Next, for Windows Phone 8.1 submissions, developers can either continue using the Silverlight platform updated with new features in the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK (package type: xap) or use the Windows Runtime platform to maximize code re-use across their apps for phones, tablets, and PCs (package type: appx, appxbundle).

The timing makes sense, as Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8.1 for developers earlier today. The new version was also first unveiled at Build 2014, but it won’t be launching for all until later this month.

Mobile app developers now also have the ability to reserve names for new Windows Phone apps for up to 12 months in advance of release, just like in the Windows Store. Existing Windows Phone developers can continue to update their apps without reserving a name, until they decide to add a Windows Phone 8.1 package.

Other changes for both Stores include credit cards no longer being required for identity validation during registration, PayPal as a registration payment and renewal option, and consistent certification policies to help support universal Windows apps.

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