Microsoft is pushing hard to make Windows 10 another successful iteration of the Windows platform, and once again the firm sees developers as key to this strategy. In fact, if its Build conference is anything to go by Microsoft is prepared to do almost anything to keep developers on side and turning out compelling applications.
A lot of the talk at Build this week has been about being open and about user experience. The open side of things has been coming thick and fast from Microsoft over the past few months, with versions of key Microsoft applications for platforms such as the iPad and Android, and this continued at Build with announcements such as toolkits to port iOS and Android apps to Windows 10.
This announcement should not be seen in isolation, but part of a bigger picture that Microsoft is now actively engaging closely with developers in order to give them every encouragement to develop for Windows, and if that means enabling them to re-use code they have already written for Apple or Android apps, then so be it.
Some commentators have expressed concern that the existence of such tools might actually discourage developers from switching to Windows 10 from Java and C++ on Android or Objective C on iOS, but Microsoft's application platform enables developers to choose from Java, C++, XAML, Python and other languages, and making it easy to bring across existing code can surely only be a good thing.
The prospect of being able to create a single application that can run across a broad spectrum of devices, from smartphones to tablets to laptops and tablets must also make Windows 10 a tempting opportunity for developers.
One major impediment to this app nirvana has been the huge installed base of existing applications written to the so-called Win32 application programming interface (API) set. To address this, another announcement at Build was a toolkit to enable such apps to be brought into the Windows Store ecosystem, as Microsoft moves to make this the chief source for users to acquire software in the future.
But if Microsoft is to stand any chance of meeting its ambitious goal of one billion devices running Windows 10 within two to three years, delivering a good user experience will be a key factor, and once again developers are key. As seen at Build, Microsoft is trying to outfit its application platform with features and capabilities that will enable developers to build compelling apps that are a pleasure to use.
Perhaps the most eye-opening demonstration at Build was of Microsoft's HoloLens hardware, which runs Windows 10 and enables the wearer to see and interact with computer-rendered objects overlaid onto their view of the real world. Alongside the more whimsical applications, such as letting the user place a running movie display against a wall or "carry" it around with them, there are serious business applications.
Microsoft showed at Build how the HoloLens is being piloted by universities as a teaching aid for medical students, for example, letting them see and interact with life-size 3D models of the human body, peeling away the flesh to see the organs inside. Another demo involved architects being able to see and manipulate their designs in 3D, and even see how a proposed building would fit into the landscape when completed.
This all adds up to a growing buzz about Windows 10, and Microsoft looks like it is taking all the right steps to make the platform into a success. If it can get the developers on side and inspired by things like the HoloLens, then the misstep it made with Windows 8 looks like being left far behind.
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