Microsoft’s First Universal Apps Are Microsoft Games


The first of Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) universal apps have appeared on the Windows Phone download website — and, surprise, they’re games.

Among the first two universal apps are Halo: Spartan Assault and Skulls of the Shogun. Both game apps feature small print that says, “Made for Windows Phones and Windows PCs.” Both are paid apps that cost $4.99, published by Microsoft Studios, the company’s in-house game studio. Neither app is new. Halo: Spartan Assault was last updated in August. Skulls of Shogun was last updated in April 2013. However, they are no labeled as for both Microsoft Phone and PC. A universal app only has to be paid for once across all devices.

The Halo game brings the shooter game franchise to mobile for the first time, according to its app description. Skulls of the Shogun is a turn-based samurai game.

Some free apps are also starting to show that “Made for Windows Phones and Windows PCs” label — they include other Microsoft Studios games such as Microsoft Solitaire, Microsoft Mahjong and Microsoft Minesweeper.

Microsoft is not the first company to introduce this type of app. Universal apps have been a regular feature of both Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Android apps, in which an app can be downloaded on either a smartphone or a tablet. Many apps in the App Store can be downloaded on an iPhone, iPod, or iPad. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) Play apps can similarly be downloaded across a variety of devices. However, it’s a new concept for Microsoft. Like Apple, apps have also been brought to the computer, meaning that Microsoft apps can be used on PCs.

Microsoft announced its universal apps at the beginning of April, during its BUILD 2014 conference. The company also announced it would provide support to developers looking to create their own universal apps for the Microsoft platform.

The universal Microsoft platform includes more than just Windows Phones, tablets, and PCs. The Xbox gaming console is also included, via Xbox Live.

For customers who own more than one Microsoft device, this is good news. A user needs to only pay for a universal app once to be able to play it on his or her phone, computer, or Xbox. In the past, the customer would have had to purchase the same app multiple times if he or she wanted to play it on more than one device. A single purchase versus multiple ones is significant savings for Microsoft customers.

Microsoft has also started to accept universal apps from other game developers this week in its Dev Center, a developer-centric area, per an official blog post from earlier this week. This news means that more universal apps are coming in the future, beyond those published by Microsoft Studios. Just look for the little screen logo next to the price.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: