Microsoft has been paying developers to build apps for its beleaguered Windows Phone operating system. Now the company has a better idea.

Redmond has launched a new website that lets anyone — including those of us with no knowledge of programming languages — to build phone apps using templates and simple tools. (As of our preliminary testing, it’s a bit buggy, but promising.)

Apple requires developers to code in Objective C, while programmers who want to publish to Google’s mobile platform will need to know Java and XML.

The whole app phenomenon has radically democratized software publishing and allowed a bunch of entrepreneurial coders to get very rich, but it leaves out a huge source of innovation: people who may have a great idea, but lack the skills or time to develop them. (For those with the time, check out Lifehacker’s beginner’s guide to coding.)

Although Microsoft’s new Web tool is promising, it remains doubtful that it will solve Windows Phone’s most urgent problem: a lack of quality, must-have apps. Even Google, which has learned to play nice with Apple, refuses to support Microsoft’s mobile competitor. Until there are enough phones in users’ hands to drive demand for apps, developers can’t be expected to invest their time, money and energy. At the same time, people don’t want to buy phones that don’t have official Instagram and YouTube apps.

Sources: The Verge, Windows Phone App Studio

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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