Microsoft focuses on cross platform play during Build 2015 conference


Microsoft’s annual developer event ‘Build’ took place this week.  Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella took centre stage to introduce a slew of announcements to excite developers – and importantly grow the Windows ecosystem.

The theme of the show was cross-platform compatibility:

The first demo was ‘Docker’ – a tool that allows applications to be containerised on servers. The advantage being that they are more light weight requiring just the application, binaries and libraries instead of the guest OS as well.  They also showed off its true versatility with running Linux applications on a Windows server and vice-versa.

  • Microsoft also announced a new coding application called ‘Visual Studio Code’ launching and available on the same day for Windows, Linux and Mac – enabling developers a holistic platform with the same tools to code for free.
  • After servers and PCs the focus went to mobile but the theme stayed on compatibility. The strongest criticism of Microsoft’s phones has always been the app-gap with Windows Phone having fewer apps available than iPhone or Android.  Microsoft has announced its plan to make it as easy as possible for developers of apps on competing systems to bring them over to Windows.  On the Android side, Microsoft has including an Android sub-system into Windows 10 for phones, meaning developers can use the same android code and Windows Phone will direct the API calls to the Android sub-system whilst keeping the user interface Windows-like. For iPhone apps the converting is done via Visual Studio. Developers will be able to open an Apple Xcode project’s into Visual Studio which will the convert the apple specific API calls to Windows 10 equivalents.   Both these types of converted apps (Android and iPhone) will of course not only work on just Windows Phones but tablets, PCs and even the Xbox will be an option.

This altruistic approach to not just Windows but providing tools across competing platforms seems very anti-Apple – and a strategy that could play very well to budding developers worldwide. These are the same developers that drove the success of both iPhone and Android devices today. Microsoft will need the support of these developers if it hopes to succeed in its lofty goal of 1 billion devices running Windows 10 in its first three years!

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