Great news reported in the latest Windows Phone Developer Blog post, Making it easier to get started with Windows Phone App Studio beta, simplified phone registration, support options & more payout markets. There you can read about a great new tool, Windows Phone App Studio, that can help people without coding skills to create a phone app using a free, web-based app creation tool. Even experienced devs will find it useful to build out the basic structure of an app, but since you can download the code for the project the tool creates, you can then modify it to add more functionality.

Interesting though Windows Phone App Studio is, the best news announced in that post is the new simplified phone registration. This is fantastic news, as it removes one blocker we’ve had with people trying to get started building for Windows Phone.

The dev tools have always been free (download the Windows Phone 8.0 SDK for free from http://dev.windowsphone.com), but if you wanted to test your app on the emulator, you had to have a PC with a Core i3/i5/i7 processor and have Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise, which are the editions that include the necessary Hyper-V support. So if you couldn’t meet those hardware and OS specs, your only option was to run your app on a real phone – but to use a real phone you had to have registered for a developer account at http://dev.windowsphone.com so you could unlock it, which is normally $99/year (although that is currently on special offer at $19 until August 26th). At this point, the ‘mildly curious developer’, faced with the prospect of having to part with money to try out their new app, can lose interest and of course we’ve lost a potential convert to our developer community.

Any dev can unlock one phone for testing without a registration fee

Now, anyone can unlock one phone to test their apps without needing a dev account, and can install up to two ‘work in progress’ apps onto the phone at any one time. Fantastic! So now you can get started with Windows Phone dev using *any* PC running Windows 8 (any edition) at no charge (well, you need a handset obviously ). Only caveat is that your PC and Windows 8 OS still needs to be 64 bit, as that is a requirement of the SDK.