From the Microsoft blog post:
As a part of our Windows device life cycle, Microsoft Store will soon stop accepting new apps with Windows Phone 8.x or earlier or Windows 8/8.1 packages (XAP and APPX). Soon after that date, we will stop distributing app updates to Windows Phone 8.x or earlier and Windows 8/8.1 devices; at that time, updates will only be made available to customers using Windows 10 devices.
Take note of the following dates so you can effectively plan your development cycles:
- October 31st, 2018 – Microsoft will stop accepting new app submissions with Windows Phone 8.x or earlier or Windows 8/8.1 packages (XAP or APPX)
- This will not affect existing apps with packages targeting Windows Phone 8.x or earlier and/or Windows 8/8.1. You can continue to submit updates to these apps as described below.
- July 1st, 2019 – Microsoft will stop distributing app updates to Windows Phone 8.x or earlier devices.
- You’ll still be able to publish updates to all apps (including those with Windows Phone 8.x or earlier packages). However, these updates will only be made available to Windows 10 devices.
The first date is fairly irrelevant, since I can't believe that ANY developer is creating new apps or games for Windows Phone 8.1 in late 2018. The second date is more interesting, but still fairly irrelevant for WP8.1, since all 8.1 applications in the Store are essentially 'done' and anyone still using 8.1 certainly won't be expecting new features mid 2019.
It's more relevant for Windows 10 Mobile, since there are some titles which never made the jump to UWP status for Windows 10. Whatsapp and Telegram spring to mind, but there are others, still used under W10M today. Happily, the blog post makes it explicitly clear that updates for 8.1 apps can still be pushed to Windows 10 Mobile users, i.e. this news is only about the 8.1 Store. Phew.
Significantly, no dates were mentioned for Windows 10 Mobile, but as mentioned in my separate feature, we can extrapolate application updates for this finishing at the end of 2019.