Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The NEW Microsoft

Today Microsoft held their Build conference keynote. As with Apple and Google, developer conference keynotes have become a mainstay of announcements for the general public beyond developers. At first it seemed that Microsoft would be bucking that trend today as the first portions of their keynote were very, very developer centric.

However, a lot changed when they started talking about Windows 10. Microsoft is betting the future on building a platform that applications will build off of. Much like Apple and Google, they seem to be discovering that the real money isn't in the operating system itself, but in helping bring applications to consumers through validated app stores. In Microsoft's case it's also seeking to converge all of their platforms into a single unified platform. They once again reiterated today that Windows 10 will run on all of the devices that are out there, from phones to tablets to PC's to XBox game consoles. This means that applications can be written once, and then deployed with the appropriate user interface, depending on the form factor.

This was announced a while ago, but it was cool to see it in action today as well. The biggest news in my opinion though was how developers can bring apps to the Windows Store. The first was packaged web apps, similar to how Chome operates. The second was the traditional Win32 and .Net space, again not much surprise here. The third pathway however was recently rumored, and it didn't disappoint. Microsoft is going to support Android apps within Windows 10. There will be a small runtime embedded in the operating system that will allow Android apps to run on Windows Phones. This is a huge win for the lack of apps that are currently available for the Windows platform.

This was only the first of two surprises. The second was the announcement that Windows 10 will support Objective-C, the primary programming language of iOS, and that iOS apps will be able to be ported to Windows with very minimal changes. This is another big step at being a platform that is available everywhere.

What I find so fascinating about this is that Microsoft is positioning itself as the landing spot for anything you want to do with your technology. They're the first vendor to basically say the operating system wars are dead, and the new battlefield is providing platforms for applications. The real way to the hearts and minds of consumers today is providing technology services to meet them where they need to work. By aiming for an "any service in any place" model Microsoft is actually leading a new paradigm that others are now going to have to follow.