Microsoft today opened up submissions for its Windows 8 app store to all developers, including individuals and companies.
The Redmond-based company also added 82 more Windows Store submission markets, to form a grand total of 120.
"Today's an especially great day to be a developer," said Microsoft's Antoine Leblond in a statement.
In a blog post, Microsoft said the Store expansion marks the last significant milestone before Windows 8 becomes generally available next month.
The Windows Store has been in preview mode for some time. When the Windows 8 Consumer Preview launched back in February, it included a few Microsoft-selected apps, including PuzzleTouch Jigsaw, Air Soccer, Pew Pew, SigFig Portfolio, and Elements Weather. When Windows 8 reached RTM, Microsoft said developers could visit the Windows Dev Center for access to app-building tools, and promised more details soon.
Windows Store partner program manager, Ted Dworkin, said today that Microsoft has "seen fantastic interest from individual developers, large development houses and component and service providers" throughout the preview period. "And as we've opened up new markets for onboarding and expanded our invitations, we've seen a great increase in both the number and diversity of apps."
Developers who have already signed up are ready to jump into the game. Others can visit the Windows Store Dashboard on the Windows Dev Center and sign up for free.
Microsoft also announced a number of additional program offers in an effort to recognise and thank developers for their commitment to Windows. All eligible MSDN subscribers, Dworkin said, will receive a free, one-year Windows Store developer account.
The new Windows operating system is scheduled for release on 26 October, more than three years after Windows 7 debuted on 22 October 2009.