The aim is presumably to get more people using Windows software by making it compatible with popular existing apps on other platforms. The move represents a major change in strategy for Microsoft, and a top company executive announced that the company will release a series of tools to help developers adapt existing apps so that they function on smartphones, PCs and other devices which use Windows 10.
Charm offensive at the Build conference
The first day of the Microsoft Build conference also saw other executives exhibiting other applications for Microsoft’s holographic “augmented reality” headset, the HoloLens. An announcement was also made on the new web browser, to be known as “Edge,” which company executives promised would be faster and more useful than its predecessor Internet Explorer, which will be retired after 20 years of service.
Windows 10 is the inspiration behind all of these moves, and the new version of Microsoft’s operating system is part of an attempt recover some of the stature that Microsoft has lost due to the increased popularity of Apple and iOS, as well as Google’s Android. Microsoft has essentially lost the battle for the smartphone and tablet markets, which are dominated by Apple and Google, but now the company is marketing Windows 10 as a universal software for PCs, phones, tablets and other devices in the Internet of Things.
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“Windows 10 represents a new generation of Windows, built for an era of more personal computing,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. He later expounded on his belief that the workers and consumers of today want to enjoy the same user experience across a variety of devices.
Cracking the “chicken-and-egg” problem
The Build Conference is designed to bring software developers on board with the new direction for Windows 10, and use them to spread enthusiasm for the new release among the wider tech community. Some new features of Windows 10 have already been released by Microsoft, but different facets and app-building tools are being shown off at Build, with a focus on mobile devices as well as the traditional Windows PC stomping ground.
“Our goal is to make Windows 10 the most attractive development platform ever,” said Microsoft Vice President Terry Myerson. In order to convince users of rival platforms to join the Windows 10 revolution, Microsoft first needs to bring outside developers on board. If the developers do not make software for Windows 10, consumers will stay with iOS and Android platforms.
“Getting developer buy-in is absolutely the crucial thing,” according to tech industry analyst J.P. Gownder, who works for Forrester Research. He claimed that Microsoft has failed to overcome the “chicken-and-egg” problem, in which developers have been discouraged from building mobile apps for Windows because of the small number of people who use Windows phones and tablets.
App deficit to be addressed
Both Google’s Android platform and Apple’s iOS both boast over 1.4 million apps, but users of Windows phones and tablets can only access a few hundred thousand apps. This lack of choice discourages new users, and therefore developers do not make apps for such a small market.
The fact that Microsoft will now make it easy for developers to adapt existing apps for Windows 10 marks a huge shift from the protectionism of the past, when each company was sure to maintain distinct differences between their platforms. As well as mobile devices, Microsoft promises that Windows 10 apps will function just as fluidly on PCs, Xbox consoles and even the HoloLens, which the company helps will provide further encouragement for developers.
Microsoft to create legions of Windows 10 users
Developers should also be spurred by the promise that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for existing users of the platform. Under the terms of the offer, users of the previous two versions of Windows will receive a free upgrade should they do so within a year of the release of Windows 10. By offering such an opportunity, Microsoft could create a huge number of new Windows 10 users in a short space of time.
VP Myerson claims that there will be around a billion Windows 10 devices within the next few years, and apps for those devices will be made available through a single app store. In a nod to the growing importance of developing markets, Microsoft will allow consumers without credit cards to pay for apps on their phone bill via a series of partnerships with wireless carriers.
Although no exact release date for Windows 10 has been announced, although AMD chairman and CEO Lisa Su may have let slip that the release is planned for late July.