Microsoft wants you to build an app for Windows Phone. Like, really wants you to build an app for Windows Phone.
Microsoft announced today a program called Windows Phone App Studio beta, a free Web-based tool for first time or hobbyist developers to try out app designs and download them to their Windows Phone devices to test them out. If they like what they have made, they can publish them to the Windows Phone Marketplace for their friends and family.
The Windows Phone App Studio is basically an online app wizard with a variety of customizable templates that allow for applying text, Web content, imagery and design concepts to an app. The App Studio will take care of all the coding and backend services hosted in the cloud.
The new tool could be useful to professional developers that have been resistant to building for Windows Phone (which are most professional mobile developers) by letting them see what their app might look like on the platform. Microsoft let’s developers use App Studio beta for prototyping before downloading the source code so they can continue working on that app in Microsoft’s integrated developer environment Visual Studio.
Microsoft is allowing any developer to unlock and register one Windows Phone to download their test apps (up to two apps) on. Registered Windows Phone developers can unlock up to three phones for 10 apps.
To spur developers to try App Studio or just sign up for a developer account Microsoft announced that registration to its mobile developer center is on special: $19 until August 26. That is well below Apple’s $99 yearly fee and Google’s $25 fee for Android developers.