In the mobile market, Microsoft appears to be stuck in a vicious circle. It creates arguably robust, user friendly and intuitive operating systems, but falls down due to its poor app store as developers aren’t investing in Microsoft’s OS in the same way they would Apple's iOS or Google’s Android.
In Windows 8.1 for phones one of the largest apps to date, Instagram is still in Beta, and hugely popular Tinder isn’t available, for example.
However, in conversation with Giorgio Sardo, senior director of developer experience, about Microsoft’s announcements for its all-encompassing developer platform and its hopes to win the hearts of the developer community, it was surprising to learn he didn’t consider Window’s appeal a problem.
“The issue is about the complexity of development nowadays, not about market share”, Sardo insists.
“Across Windows there are more than 1.5 billion users, there are more than a billion devices in the market using Windows.”
The developer platform for Windows 10 has been rewritten to allow developers to recycle their code rather than starting from scratch. Microsoft has a large device environment – Xbox, Windows phones and laptops, for example, and Sardo says this is the real challenge that has been restricting developers.
“We are unifying all the platforms. Our goal in the next two to three years is to have by far the largest installation of a single operating system and single bastion. It will be the same binary running across all those different devices.”
Entrepreneurial at heart, “developers love taking on new opportunities, but hate writing code that already exists”, Sardo says.
“If you have spent a significant chunk of time writing your business logical you don’t want to rewrite it – you want to spend time building great experiences that will engage users. At the end of the day that will benefit your app and get you better reviews and ranking so you can monetise your app.”
He adds: “We have presence in 142 markets, so I think there are compelling propositions for developers to come to Windows.”
The firm have invested heavily in new technology for developers to get behind Windows 10 and give it the app boost it needs to become more popular with consumers. It has made it easier for websites to be “wrapped” through its platform API and easily incorporate voice activated assistant Cortana and push notification features, plus code recycling features.
Developers that are interested in transferring their apps onto the Microsoft platform in anticipation of the Windows 10 launch slated for the end of July have several options.
A sign up for the Windows Insider program is available, offering access to the latest OSV to install on your phone or client. You can download the community edition tool to build apps or the second preview of the Windows SDK. This means you can start building, testing or rewriting apps.
However, code recycling from iOS and Android apps won’t be available until the end of the year, Sardo says.
Microsoft is currently running a “super small” developer preview for Windows 10 with a pool of apps like King.com’s Candy Crush, for example, with the intention of expanding it to the greater developer community by the end of the year.