Windows Dev Center

What's next for Windows Phone 8 developers

If you’re a developer with an existing Windows Phone 8 app, you might be wondering what the Windows Phone 8.1 release means for you, your app, and your Windows Phone development skill set. Here are some simple questions and answers that can help you decide what you want to do next. If you’re new to developing for Windows Phone, we recommend that you begin with the new, converged documentation for Windows Store and Windows Phone Store apps. To get started, go to Windows Runtime app development.

As a developer with an existing Windows Phone 8 app, there are three ways you can move forward with your app development. And, because you can have both your Windows Phone 8 app and a new Windows Phone 8.1 version of your app available in the Store at the same time, you can choose more than one of these options.

  • Keep your Windows Phone 8 app

  • Update to a Windows Phone Silverlight 8.1 version of your app

  • Port to a Windows Phone Store version of your app

The following table asks some questions that you might have when you’re trying to decide how to move forward with your app development and gives you an answer for each of the three app models now supported for Windows Phone.

Keep your Windows Phone 8 app

Update to Silverlight 8.1

Port to Windows Phone Store

Tell me more

Your Windows Phone Silverlight 8 app will continue to work exactly as it is, both on Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 phones. You can still add fixes and new functionality to your app using the new tools.

Update your app to Silverlight 8.1 and you can reuse most of your existing code, and add new Windows Phone 8.1 features, such as geofencing, app calendars, screen recording, WNS for push notifications, improved background transfers, and more.

Port your app to be a Windows Phone Store app and you can take advantage of the new Windows Phone 8.1 features as well as the same app model and UI framework used in Windows Store apps, making it easy to support both Windows and Windows Phone.

Which option is right for me?

If your app works great on Windows Phone 8, and you don’t need to add new Windows Phone 8.1 features, then you can keep it as it is.

If you want to add some new Windows Phone 8.1 features, but you aren’t ready to invest in porting your app to the Windows Phone Store app model and UI framework, then this is a good option. In fact, there are a small number of Windows Phone 8.1 features that are only available for Silverlight 8.1 apps.

If you want to add some new Windows Phone 8.1 features, and you’re ready to move to the new app model and UI framework so that you can easily target both Windows Phone and Windows, then you can port your app to a Windows Phone Store app.

How much work is involved?

None. Your app will continue to work as-is.

Some. You won’t need to modify your existing code and UI, but you’ll need to repackage and republish your app. And, of course, you’ll need to write code for any new Windows Phone 8.1 features you use.

More. Windows Phone Store apps use the same app model and UI framework as Windows Store apps do, and they use the Windows versions of common features such as background tasks. You will still be able to reuse a lot of your existing code, but these differences mean that it really is a porting exercise, more than just an update, to move a Windows Phone 8 to the new app model.

What phones will my app run on?

Your app will continue to run on phones with Windows Phone 8 installed on them, and it will run on phones with Windows Phone 8.1 installed on them, too. Not only will new phones have Windows Phone 8.1 installed, but any current phone that can run Windows Phone 8 can be updated to Windows Phone 8.1 for free.

Your Silverlight 8.1 app will run on all new phones, and on current Windows Phone 8 phones that have been updated to Windows Phone 8.1 for free. And remember that you can have your both Windows Phone 8 app and a new Silverlight 8.1 version of your app available in the Store at the same time if you like.

Your Windows Phone Store app will run on all new phones, and on current Windows Phone 8 phones that have been updated to Windows Phone 8.1 for free. And remember that you can have both your Windows Phone 8 app and a new Windows Phone Store version of your app available in the Store together if you like.

Where can I get more info?

Windows Phone 8 documentation will continue to be available. Bookmark Windows Phone Silverlight development to go straight to the Windows Phone 8 docs. When you’re looking at API reference topics, look in the Requirements table in each topic for “Minimum Supported OS: Windows Phone 8”.

Check out our Windows Phone Silverlight 8.1 apps guide to learn how to update your app, and for info about the new features in Silverlight 8.1 apps. When you’re looking at API reference topics, look in the Requirements table in each topic for “Minimum Supported OS: Windows Phone Silverlight 8.1”.

First check out Migrating your Windows Phone 8 app to a Windows Runtime XAML app for information about porting your app to a Windows Phone Store app. Then, you’re ready to move into the Windows Runtime app development guide, which supports developing both Windows Phone Store apps and Windows Store apps.

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