Now ready for you: Windows 8.1 and the Windows Store

With today’s announcement of Windows 8.1 and Visual Studio 2013 availability, we’re also excited to announce that the Windows Store is now open for submitting apps targeting Windows 8.1.

Publishing your apps to the Windows Store for Windows 8.1

For those of you who started working on your app with our Preview versions, you’ll first need to update your Preview environment to today’s release versions of Windows 8.1 and Visual Studio 2013. Packages built on prerelease versions won’t be accepted into the Store. For apps written in HTML/JavaScript, check out our recent blog post with more specifics to help you target the release build of Windows 8.1.

If you already have an app in the Store for Windows 8 users, you’ll want to check out our info on retargeting your app. You can import your existing project into Visual Studio and make changes as needed to take advantage of the new features in Windows 8.1. After you’ve finished building, it’s easy to add your Windows 8.1 packages to your current app so that customers who’ve upgraded to Windows 8.1 see the latest version of your app. (Of course, you can also continue to update your Windows 8 apps as needed.)

For those new to the platform, take a look around the Windows Dev Center for all the resources you need to get started. You can learn what Windows Store apps are all about and get up to speed on the basics of app development. We even have content that’s specifically written to help you ramp up quickly if you’re already familiar with building apps for iOS or building apps for Android.

Recapping Windows 8.1 platform improvements

We started talking about many of the Windows 8.1 platform features back in late June at our Build conference. Here are just a few of the new platform features and benefits that will help you build better apps and drive deeper engagement with your customers.

  • Overall platform performance improvements to our supported programming languages (C#, C++, JavaScript, or VB) and presentation technologies (XAML, HTML, or DirectX)
  • Improvements to the XAML and HTML controls, and new Hub and WebView controls
  • Tiles on the Start screen now support two additional sizes, bringing the total up to four
  • More powerful multitasking capabilities, with more than two apps onscreen at the same time; a single app can also use multiple windows
  • Improvements to DirectX, as you may have read about earlier this week

We’ve also made improvements to the Windows Store to better connect your apps with customers and drive greater monetization.

  • All new Store layout providing better discovery and richer experience
  • Integration of Bing technologies to make recommendations more relevant
  • App packages can now be up to 8 gigabytes (great for visually rich apps and games)
  • App bundles optimize the distribution of Windows Store app resource packages to global customers
  • Windows Store support for in-app consumables and larger catalogs on in-app offers
  • Windows Store gift cards will launch this holiday to support purchases without credit cards
  • Windows Store apps now auto-update by default, so your customers will always be on the latest and greatest version of your app

As always, we have great free tools for you to work with. The new Visual Studio 2013 Express brings many new benefits to developing Windows Store apps, like improved UI test support, responsiveness testing, improved IntelliSense, new design capabilities including better support for CSS and JavaScript, as well as connecting to our free cloud offerings like Azure Mobile Services.

Windows 8.1 offers developers far more new functionality and opportunities than can be summed up in this blog post. We have lots more information on our Windows Dev Center and in our Windows 8.1 Product Guide for App Builders. We also have some great videos you can watch, like this interview with Joe Stegman, Group Program Manager for the UI platform.

As your customers start installing their free update to Windows 8.1, there’s no better time to update your app. We hope you’re as excited as we are about Windows 8.1 and Visual Studio 2013. Download the tools today and have fun building!