SAN FRANCISCO—Taking a cue from one of its new themes of building bridges for developers, Microsoft is opening up Visual Studio to enable iOS and Android developers to repurpose and build apps for the Windows Store.
The new scheme involves new technology including Microsoft-built Objective-C SDK for iOS developers as well as a POSIX-based subsystem for Android, Java and C++ developers. The move signals a new level of openness for Microsoft, which is trying to be all things to all developers. In addition, Microsoft is enabling Web developers to move their apps to Windows and for core .NET and Win32 developers to move their apps to the Windows Store as well.
Indeed, the new approach is also self serving. However, as Microsoft pledges to have Windows 10 on 1 billion devices within two to three years, it would behoove more developers to view the platform more seriously. Microsoft announced the moves at its Build 2015 conference here.
"Today we shared our bold goal—to see Windows 10 on one billion devices within two to three years of Windows 10’s availability—the first platform version, in any ecosystem, to be available on one billion devices,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of operating systems at Microsoft. “We will accomplish this by delivering Windows 10 with a free upgrade offer, making it easy for customers and businesses to upgrade quickly, and with great new devices.”
“We want to empower every developer on the planet,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Microsoft has bold ambitions for platforms that empower developers across Windows, Azure and Office. Together, we will create more personal and more intelligent experiences that empower billions of people to achieve more.”
Meanwhile, Microsoft shared more details on what the Windows Store will offer to end-users, businesses, and developers. Developers will be able to write an application once and distribute it to the entire Windows 10 device family, making discovery, purchasing and updating easy for customers, Myerson said.
For end-users, apps in the Windows Store will install and uninstall easily, and the Windows Store will support a range of global payment methods on all Windows devices, including the largest carrier billing footprint of any ecosystem, supporting 90 carriers, to help people around the world who don’t have credit cards, but do have phones, he said.
Moreover, for businesses, Microsoft introduced the Windows Store for Business. The Windows Store enables admins to highlight apps for their employees, distribute select apps from the Windows Store and private line-of-business apps to their employees, and use business payment methods like purchase orders, Myerson said.
For developers, Microsoft announced several new capabilities coming to Windows 10:
- Carrier billing across all Windows 10 devices, which from our phone experience, increases purchases in emerging markets by 8x
- Updated Windows 10 Microsoft Advertising SDK with support for video ads and install tracking
- In-app purchase subscription support
- New Windows Store Affiliate Program
Microsoft welcomed all developers to the Universal Windows Platform by announcing four new software development toolkits that will make it easy to bring their code for the Web, .NET, Win32, iOS and Android to the Windows Store with minimal code modifications. This will enable developers to start with an existing code base such as Android or iOS, integrate with the Universal Windows Platform capabilities, and then distribute their new application through the Windows Store.
Myerson said Windows has always embraced a variety of technologies to build apps. At Build last year, Microsoft detailed its support for open source and popular middleware partners, open sourced .NET, and announced native Cordova support in Visual Studio.
This year, the company announced the four new SDKs, enabling developers to start with an existing code base, integrate with the Universal Windows Platform capabilities, and then distribute their new application through the Windows Store to the one billion Windows 10 devices that are expected to be in use in the next two to three years. Again, the code bases enabled by these SDKs are: Web sites, .NET and Win32, Android Java/C++ and iOS Objective C.
In that regard, Microsoft announced that Adobe will bring its Photoshop Elements and Premier Elements apps to the Windows Store, leveraging the new SDK for Win32 applications. "We look forward to more of the current 16 million Win32 applications growing their distribution through the Windows Store," Myerson said.
"Today, we also shared that King has already used the Objective C SDK to bring Candy Crush Saga to Windows Phone," he added. "The app came to market quickly with very few code modifications, and has earned a 4.5 average rating."