With Windows 8.1 just around the corner, Microsoft has begun promoting its platforms to app developers. The company, no doubts, wants to go in all guns blazing this time.

The technology titan recently launched its web based Windows Phone App Studio that is designed to let users create simple apps for its mobile platform easily via a template UI.

Now the company is launching yet another program (US only, 18 years of age or older) that aims to encourage people to make both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.

This new program goes by the name of App Builder Rewards, and offers developers a chance to earn prizes by making and publishing apps for both of its popular platforms. The website states that this program will last for a limited time, though no specific end date has been provided.

But instead of virtual VISA cards like last time, Microsoft is offering developers a chance to complete quests in the app building process like completing their personal profile, submitting details, attending events (real world and online) and more. Joining the program itself is worth 1,000 points.

And once certain point values are reached, Redmond will give away prizes that vary from free Xbox 360 games to one year of Windows Store developer account and a free copy of Windows 8 Pro.

While it is a bit of a bummer that this program is only limited to people in the United States, it is easy to see why this is US only. Other countries and regions have their own strict rules for contests like these.

Nevertheless, this is another way for Redmond to stir interest in both its platforms and get as many developers as it can to make apps both for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

Expect a marked increase in app store submissions in the near future.

What about you guys? Have you been waiting to jump into mobile app development? Have a killer idea that you want to see developed. And are these two new Microsoft initiatives enticing enough to make you jump in? The comment box is open for business.

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