Microsoft has created a bevy of "WebApps" for Windows Phone based on almost 50 popular and commercial websites like Southwest Airlines, Cars.com, TV.com, Listverse and Billboard. The WebApps live on the homescreen with the rest of the apps, but they are essentially the same as the websites they correspond to. The apps do not simply scrape content from the websites, but they do render the same website data in-app.
"We are helping people access great mobile experiences on Windows Phone by creating pinnable Web Apps that show up in the app list," a spokesperson told ZDNet. "These are not a replacement for native apps. In most cases we hope that usage of the Web App will encourage the ISV to publish its own native app." Although not produced by the website owners themselves, they have given Microsoft permission to app-ify them.
Microsoft thus continues its creatively waged campaign to make advances in the app war of attrition with Apple and Google. Currently the Windows Phone Store has about 175,000 titles compared to the App Store's 760,000 and Android's 700,000-plus (and gaining.) Recent big news in Windows Phone apps include a reintroduced, stripped down YouTube app, and Windows Remote Desktop being introduced after being introduced for iOS and Android.
The WebApps were released about a month after rumors emerged to the effect that the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store could be merged as early as 2015. Another rumor has Xbox One integrated as well. Yet another tasty but empty-calorie rumor this week says that all Windows 8 apps could soon sync with and run on Xbox One, but we're pretty sure a writer at Dell started that rumor by accident on a Dell product page.