Microsoft shelling out as much as $600,000 for Windows Phone apps

Despite the continued momentum of the phone, which recently surpassed 80,000 apps, Microsoft is digging deep into its pockets for developer support.

Forget the MegaMillions and its 1-in-178 million odds, I want to learn how to write Windows Phone apps. Microsoft is so anxious to close the apps gap with the iPhone it's paying in the six figures for apps.

Todd Brix, a senior director at Microsoft who works with Windows Phone app developers, told Bloomberg that the company is providing financial incentives that range from free tools and handsets to funding for software development and marketing.

"We are investing a lot to attract developers big and small to Windows Phone 7 to let them understand what the opportunity is and provide as many resources as we can to help them be successful on our platform," Brix told Bloomberg.

But the New York Times ferreted out actual details: Microsoft is funding the porting of well-known apps to Windows Phone to the tune of anywhere from $60,000 to $600,000, depending on the complexity of the app.

Microsoft has to be concerned about its app resources to be making such bold moves. When Rovio launched "Angry Birds Space," the hottest game on mobile phones, there was no Windows Phone version, even though Rovio and Nokia are in the same industrial park in Espoo, Finland.

Even at 80,000 apps, Microsoft has some catching up to do. Android Market has 450,000 apps and the App Store has more than 600,000 apps.

One bit of good news: Microsoft has said that Apollo, a significant update to the Windows Phone platform, will still run existing apps. Larry Lieberman, senior project manager, wrote on the Windows Phone Developer blog that all existing windows Phone apps will work on Apollo, due later this year.

He also more or less confirmed that Silverlight is toast. "We’ve also heard some developers express concern about the long term future of Silverlight for Windows Phone. Please don’t panic; XAML and C#/VB.NET development in Windows 8 can be viewed as a direct evolution from today’s Silverlight. All of your managed programming skills are transferrable to building applications for Windows 8, and in many cases, much of your code will be transferrable as well," he wrote.

Yeah, that pretty much spells the end of Silverlight.

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