Microsoft claims 160,000 Windows Phone apps in store, drops dev costs

There’s money in them thar Windows Phones, says Microsoft.

Microsoft has temporarily dropped the annual registration fee for developers who publish Windows Phone apps on its app store from $99 to $19.

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The offer, announced on Wednesday, is available for the next 60 days to developers with plans to publish Windows Phone apps on the Windows Phone Store, and comes as Microsoft reminds developers there is money to be made on its platform. 

Microsoft claims it now has more than 160,000 apps and games in its store — no small beer, but still a fraction of the number of apps in Google's and Apple's stores that consumers have invested in over the years.  (Google has approximately 700,000 apps in its Play store, while Apple has around 850,000 iPhone apps and 350,000 iPad apps available.)

Still, Microsoft is investing in new programs to drive Windows Phone app downloads, such as the Red Stripe Deals, which promote a bundle of discounted games and apps on the store. Microsoft claims that deal has on average given developers a four-fold lift in net revenues in each week of promotion. 

Microsoft also says transaction volumes on the Windows Phone Store are reaching 200 million per month and daily revenues have risen by 2.5 times since the launch of the platform

It seems Microsoft's partnerships with mobile operators could be helping it out here, with 30 carriers letting customers pay for apps bought on Microsoft's store through their phone bills. 

Microsoft has its eye on first-time buyers. The company estimates there are currently four billion feature phone owners worldwide whose first smartphone, it hopes, could be one of the cheaper Windows Phones, such as Nokia's Lumia 520 . Half the US market currently owns features phones, Microsoft said.