In an attempt to strengthen its app store, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) launched the Windows Phone App Studio today, allowing users without programming know-how to create apps. 

The company said in a blog post today, "We've heard from many potential Windows Phone developers who have great ideas, but who might not have the coding skills to create an app using standard development tools." In response, Microsoft set up the Windows Phone App Studio in beta version to offer a free, Web-based tool for creating phone apps. 

Users can add text, Web content, and images and also tweak a limited amount of design on customizable templates. The only requirement is setting up a Microsoft account. Once the app is built, it can be downloaded to a Windows Phone or published to the Windows Phone Store. Publishing apps to the store requires a Microsoft Dev Center registration -- which the company also announced today costs only $19 until Aug. 26. 

Microsoft said the new app-building tool is available today in beta mode with a limited amount of templates and plug-ins, and the company will add more features based on feedback. Users can start using the Windows Phone App Studio by going to