Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) knows it needs to catch up to Android and iOS, and knows it needs wider support from developers to do that. That thinking was likely front and center when Microsoft announced recent changes to the Windows Store aimed at offering developers more control over app release dates. Developers will be able to schedule exactly when an app release goes live, for example, and can remove an app temporarily, which can be important as bug fixes and other updates are done. Microsoft also streamlined its app certification process: The revised app certification guidelines turn some former rules into best practice guidelines and offer more options around where ads can be displayed.
The changes could maintain Windows Phone's positive momentum. According to ABI Research, in the fourth quarter total global Windows Phone shipments grew 19 percent sequentially and 104 percent year-over-year, though it still only garnered 4 percent market share. However, developers are warming to Microsoft, especially because of its impending deal to buy Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) handset business. Nokia has invested large amounts of capital and time in cultivating a developer community across markets in Asia-Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. For more, check out this FierceDeveloper special report.