Microsoft says new developer tools, inclusion of Win32 apps and new enterprise storefront will help businesses make the most of Windows 10
Microsoft says the new capabilities afforded by Windows 10 will give application developers unprecedented scope across a whole range of devices and empower businesses like never before.
The recent Microsoft Build developer conference in the US was used to reveal a number of new tools, such as the ‘Breach’ initiative that makes it easier to port iOS and Android code, as well as new capabilities for legacy Win32 software and web apps.
The company is now launching a charm offensive towards app creators and was in London this week to speak to UK developers. It hopes the promise of a universal platform will offer them scale and monetisation options to rival those of the App Store or Google Play.
Developers, developers, developers
“Our vision is to empower organisations and consumers to do more and achieve more,” Giorgio Sardo, senior director of development at Microsoft, told TechWeekEurope. “Who is going to build these experiences? Developers. So we want to give them the best tools and best platform to create excellent experiences whether it is a gaming scenario, enterprise scenario or commercial.
“The opportunity is to have developers building for multiple devices. We know that the market today is not ‘one device’ like it was several years ago. As a developer you need to reach multiple audiences. Not just with Windows 10, but also across Azure, across Office, we’ve made a big effort across all these devices.”
Microsoft wants one billion devices to run Windows 10 in the next two to three years, with its free upgrade programme central to achieving the widespread adoption its predecessor was incapable of.
Filling in the gaps
The ‘breach’ tools that make it easy to re-use iOS and Android code in Windows apps have already been used by King to create the Candy Crush Saga Windows app, while the 16 million Windows desktop apps used each month will also have access to the Windows Store.
Unspecified technical issues have prevented win32 apps from being included until now and it is intended that the Windows Store will provide legacy developers with a path forward to the Universal Windows Platform.
These initiatives should fill in many of gaps in the Windows and Windows Phone stores, but Sardo denied this was an admission that there is a lack of quantity, or indeed quality, on Microsoft’s existing marketplaces.
“Absolutely not, it’s about making it easier for users to find their content,” he said. “At the end of the day, these applications already exist. The store gives them another distribution channel that makes it easier to find the app and install it.
“By distributing [legacy] apps through the store, we will be able to provide the same benefits as the Windows Universal app. This means they are easy to install and remove, and you get access to the same analytics.”
Legacy app creators will also have access to global distribution, mobile billing and other new business models as well as the ability to be “recommended” on a user’s start menu and lock screen. Sardo said this was about making the personal computer more personal rather than being intrusive, but said such recommendations could be turned off.
“It’s all part of making the operating system more personal. Cortana in entirely connected to your agenda and you are giving content to Cortana. The user is always in control of what information Cortana knows. You can clear it and opt-out.”
For the first time, Microsoft will be offering an enterprise-focused store, giving businesses the chance to purchase volume licensing agreements, distribute internal apps and ‘whitelist’ consumer apps for managed devices.
“The Store we released with Windows 8 was really focussed on the consumer and getting the applications out,” explained Sardo. “We got a lot of excitement from businesses and enterprises who were asking for similar models.
“We’re going to give full control to businesses to decide which types of applications they want to distribute,” he added.
But gaming is “very important” to Microsoft too as it can generate the bulk of an app store’s revenue. Xbox Live APIs are being made available to developers, as is a new DirectX graphics engine. Previous attempts, such as Games for Windows, have failed to gain traction and Microsoft will be going head-to-head with the dominant Steam as well as the likes of Origin and Good Old Games.
However, Sardo said this demonstrated the “openness” of the Windows platform compared to others.
“[Gaming] has always been important,” he said. “A lot of games developers are Windows. Windows Store is one channel and there are a lot of games out there.”
It is expected that Windows 10 will be released as a free update for Windows 7, 8 and Windows Phone 7 users this summer.
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