Microsoft wants Windows Phone developers and apps, and it's launching a developer tool on Tuesday in its latest effort to secure apps for its ecosystem. A beta version of Windows Phone App Studio is now available, and it lets anyone create a Windows Phone app from the web without any knowledge of code. Essentially, it's a set of templates that let developers quickly drag and drop text, content, and imagery into an web form to create an app.

Developers will be able to create apps through the web-based tool and then unlock and register a phone to side-load them and test them for free. Apps won't be automatically listed in the store though, as developers will still have to pay the annual Dev Center registration fee to publish them fully. Alongside the web tool, Microsoft is also updating its developer center to include a live chat service to let developers talk to support reps directly.

A simple way to create highly personal apps

Microsoft's latest tool is a clear effort to make it easier for apps to be created for Windows Phone, but the resulting quality of these apps is questionable. While many third-party services offer similar tools, and Android has its own, Microsoft's approach appears to be designed for individuals to create their own useful apps that might not necessarily make it into the Windows Phone Store. An initial inspection of the available templates reveals ones targeted at personal training, sports teams, trips, favorite bands, hobbies, menus, and even movie reviews. While the Windows Phone Store might not initially be flooded with these new apps, it does provide an alternative for customers to build very limited "homebrew apps" for use on their personal devices. Microsoft originally experimented with third-party apps outside of the Store, but the company scrapped the plans last year.