Microsoft is advising application developers that it will no longer accept new applications for Windows Phone 8 or 8.1 after Oct. 31 and suggesting that the best course of action is to port their existing applications to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and Windows 10 mobile devices.
"As a part of our Windows device life cycle, Microsoft Store will soon stop accepting new apps with Windows Phone 8.x or earlier or Windows 8/8.1 packages (XAP and APPX)," the company declared in an Aug. 20 post on the Windows Blog.
“Soon after that date, we will stop distributing app updates to Windows Phone 8.x or earlier and Windows 8/8.1 devices; at that time, updates will only be made available to customers using Windows 10 devices."
Microsoft ended user support for Windows Phone 8.1 officially back July 2017, this included security patches and other phone operating system updates for those devices. With the end of Windows Phone 8.1 support, the company recommended that Windows Phone users move to Windows 10 Mobile devices which are still supported by Microsoft.
While Microsoft will no longer accept new Windows Phone 8/8.1 apps in the Microsoft Store after Oct. 31, developers will still be able to update for their existing apps for those mobile operating systems, at least for the foreseeable future.
However, starting July 1, 2019, Microsoft will stop distributing app updates to Windows Phone 8.x or earlier devices. Developers will still be able to publish updates to all apps including those with Windows Phone 8.x or earlier packages, but those updates will only be made available to Windows 10 devices, according to Microsoft.
Another deadline will arrive on July 1, 2023, when Microsoft will stop distributing app updates to Windows 8 or 8.1 devices. Again, developers will still be able to publish updates to all apps, including Windows 8/8.1 apps, but those updates will only be made available to Windows 10 devices.
Microsoft is advising developers to consider porting their existing apps to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) to create a single Windows 10 app package that can be installed on all Windows device families, including Windows Mobile, Surface and more. Developers can get more information on that strategy on the Getting started with Windows 10 apps page.
A Universal Windows Platform app uses a common API on all devices that run Windows 10 and can use device’s specific capabilities while adapting its UI to different device screen sizes and resolutions. UWP apps are available from the Microsoft Store for devices that run on Windows 10. Developers can designate which specific devices are compatible with the apps.
In March of 2016, Microsoft rolled out Windows 10 Mobile updates for some Windows Mobile 8.1 devices, allowing users to continue to use their hardware into the future. The updates, which only applied to a select number of Windows Mobile 8.1 devices, didn't always allow users to maintain all the features their handsets had when the devices were new.