With Windows 10, Microsoft is opening a new page for Windows users and a vast set of opportunities for developers.
In short, Windows 10 offers Microsoft's boldest attempt to deliver what the company has been working toward and what developers have long been looking for: one platform upon which to develop apps for phones, PCs, tablets and other devices.
According to Steve "Guggs" Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Developer Platform & Evangelism and chief evangelist for Microsoft, Windows 10 will offer developers the power, potential and reach of a truly unified platform.
"What this means: with Windows 10, app publishers will be able to reach Xbox One, phones, tablets, embedded devices, PCs and emerging devices with one universal app via a single store," Guggenheimer said in a blog post. "This truly means that you build your app once, optimize it for each device family after which you can distribute that app across all of the Microsoft client platforms. If that isn't enough, Windows 10 also allows you to take advantage of the new 'Project Spartan' browser, DirectX 12, Cortana, and the many other capabilities coming with Windows 10."
Microsoft is banking on Cortana, the company's voice-enabled digital assistant, to help drive workplace productivity now that it is available for the PC.
In addition to Cortana, Spartan, and new holographic and group computing devices, developers can take advantage of a new set of universal apps—People & Messaging, Photo, Video, Music and Maps—that begin to showcase a few of the new developer platform capabilities, said Kevin Gallo, director of the Windows Developer Platform at Microsoft, in a blog post.
Spartan is a single browser designed to work great across the entire Windows 10 device family—from keyboard and mouse on the Windows 10 desktop to touch, gestures, voice, controllers and sensors, said Jason Weber, Microsoft's group program manager for Internet Explorer, in a blog post.
"Powered by a new rendering engine, Spartan is designed for interoperability with the modern web," Weber said. "We've deliberately moved away from the versioned document modes historically used in Internet Explorer, and now use the same markup as other modern browsers. Spartan's new rendering engine is designed to work with the way the web is written today."
Moreover, developers will benefit from the fact that Spartan's new rendering engine will be the default engine for Windows 10, Spartan and Internet Explorer, Weber said. This engine has interoperability at its core and consumes the same markup developers send other modern browsers. Also, public Internet Websites will be rendered using the new engine and modern standards, and legacy Internet Explorer behaviors including document modes are not supported in the new engine.
"The Windows 10 platform will build upon the universal Windows app framework released with Windows 8.1 to provide developers the tools to deliver new app experiences across devices with a minimum amount of additional work," Gallo said. "The best way to start preparing for Windows 10 is to start building universal Windows apps today for Windows 8.1."
As for new opportunities, building apps for Windows 10 opens up an entirely new generation of personal computing. Particularly with the next generation of large-screen devices, the Surface Hub and a new generation of holographic options like Microsoft's new holographic computing platform—HoloLens—the new experiences and touch points offered by Windows 10 will open up an incredible opportunity for developers, Guggenheimer said.
Surface Hub is an 84-inch 4K display that boasts stylus support, built-in sensors, cameras and integrated OneNote support. It will serve as a digital whiteboard and a virtual meeting solution powered by Skype for Business. HoloLens is a virtual and augmented reality technology that overlays interfaces and 3D visuals onto the real world and enables users to interact with them. API support is being built into every version of the OS.
"We are working to make Windows 10 a unified, developer platform for ALL of our devices so you can reach the greatest number of customers with your work across phones, tablets, PCs, Xbox, IoT devices and the new Surface Hub and HoloLens opportunities," Gallo reiterated.
In addition, Microsoft plans to deliver Windows 10 as a service for free to a broad set of existing Windows users, including Windows 7 users. "This means that the potential of up to 1.5 billion devices, running one OS and one browser, will soon be open to you, the software developer," Guggenheimer said.
Microsoft will "go deep with developers on Windows 10" at its Build 2015 conference, which will run from April 29 to May 1 in San Francisco.