SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft today introduced “universal Windows apps” — a way for developers to construct applications for phones, tablets, and personal computers.

“Google and Apple, they have a different approach — they want you to create one app for phones and tablets and a different app for phones and laptop,” David Treadwell, corporate vice president in Microsoft’s operating systems group, said at the company’s Build conference here today. Microsoft, meanwhile, has “streamlined every phase of the development cycle,” including easier ways to build, debug, and deploy applications across multiple kinds of devices, Treadwell said.

As more and more software companies realize support for mobile devices is critical, operating system vendors like Microsoft need to simplify work for developers. So the move makes sense — especially as Microsoft rolls out neat new mobile experiences with Windows Phone 8.1.

Google, to be fair, has been thinking up ways to help developers easily get applications on emerging kinds of devices like smartwatches.

Still, Microsoft is doing this across the board, with support for C++, HTML, JavaScript, and so on.

Now in Microsoft Visual Studio, it’s possible to convert existing apps into “universal Windows apps” and easily launch them into the Windows Store. And in the Windows Store you can buy a single app and use it on multiple devices.

But it might not be enough to just program apps for mobile devices and PCs.

“What we are going to enable is your universal Windows applications running on the Xbox,” Terry Myerson, executive vide president of Microsoft’s operating systems group, said later in the day. That capability will be part of Visual Studio.

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