REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft kicked off its Build 2012 conference with a little bit of news and a lot of fanfare and developer love.
For the news, the software giant announced the delivery of its Windows Phone 8 Software Development Kit (SDK), and for the love, Microsoft announced that each attendee would receive a 32GB Microsoft Surface RT PC with a Touch Cover and a new Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 powered smartphone.
Kevin Gallo, Microsoft’s director of product management for Windows Phone, came onstage at Build to announce the public availability of the Windows Phone 8 SDK, which comes just a day after Microsoft held its launch event for the new Windows Phone 8 platform in San Francisco on Oct. 29.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer started off the developer conference by extolling the opportunity that Windows 8 creates for developers, noting that, “In the last three days, we sold 4 million Windows 8 upgrades.” Ballmer also noted that the opportunity for developers is greatest with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. He said the overall opportunity for developers includes the 670 million potential upgrades that are out there and the 400 million new Windows 8 devices that are expected to be sold. The 670 million figure is the installed base of Windows 7 licenses Microsoft has sold, he said.
Ballmer also announced that in addition to the many apps available for Windows 8 now, other major players such as Twitter, SAP and Dropbox will deliver apps for the platform. In a tweet on the subject, Twitter said its Windows 8 client would be available “in the months ahead.” Michael Bayle, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Mobile, announced a new ESPN app for Windows 8 and said it “offers us a chance to reimagine the Windows experience.” He then offered the audience the first public look at the app.
Ballmer also demonstrated Windows 8 running on several devices, from a Microsoft Surface to a Windows Phone to what Ballmer jokingly described as an “82-inch Windows 8 slate”—which was actually an 82-inch touch display from Perceptive Pixel, which Microsoft acquired in July 2012.
“Windows 8 is the best opportunity for software developers today,” Ballmer said. “I guarantee you this will be the best opportunity software developers will see,” he added. Ballmer then exhorted developers to go forth and build great Windows 8 apps and initially said each attendee would receive 100GB of SkyDrive storage. And after working the room up to a low boil, Ballmer added that each attendee would also receive a free Microsoft Surface.
Gallo said the new Windows Phone SDK 8.0 provides developers with the tools that you need to develop apps and games for Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.5. The new Windows Phone 8 SDK enhances the platform opportunity with new developer features such as support for native code and in-app purchases, he said.
Moreover, with Windows Phone 8, Ballmer acknowledged Microsoft’s low market share, but added, “We have the most differentiated approach to the market and we have absolutely killer hardware. We will do more marketing and absolutely better marketing for Windows 8 systems and Windows Phone systems, he said to hearty applause from the audience of thousands of developers.