When it comes to Windows 8 and Windows Phone, Microsoft has been caught in a Catch-22. People buy devices for the apps. Developers only want to write apps for devices that already have a lot of users.
Microsoft has to convince app developers to write for Windows, not just iOS and Android, in order to sell more devices.
This week during its developer conference, the company unveiled a grand strategy to break the stalemate. It announced a plan to deliver what’s known as the “Holy Grail” of app development: write the app once and it runs on everything, Windows 8 devices, Windows Phone 8, Xbox, iOS and Android.
Microsoft’s plan consisted of lots of new development software, updates to existing software and new features in its app-hosting cloud Azure. Plus, Microsoft also launched a new software foundation that will bring even more “Holy Grail” tools to app developers, for free.
Many people who attended the conference liked what they heard. A lot. Business Insider talked to a handful of developer attendees at the show who shared these thoughts with us:
- Thanks to the new tools, a programmer who only writes iOS apps is “going to look at” writing Windows Phone 8 apps.
- Another told us, “This was a very strategic move. Microsoft is offering a lot of support, making it easy to work with them.”
- One enterprise software developer said that his company is still in the process of upgrading 25,000 people to new PCs running Windows 7. He’ll be exploring a new feature in Windows 8.1 that will let him easily add the Windows 8 Modern interface to older, non-touch Windows apps. If it works, his company will buy Windows 8 PCs. “We’ll definitely be heading that route when it makes sense.”
- Some developers were hopeful about Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-command feature for Windows Phone 8.1, a competitor to Siri. Their apps will be able to tap into Cortana. They will start exploring that when Microsoft releases it to them on April 14.
Only one developer we talked to was feeling cautious, unsure if the Holy Grail was even possible. He told us, “If you are designing an iOS app, you want it to feel like an iOS app, not a Windows app that was converted.”
Still, there’s no question that Microsoft has piqued the interest of the developer community, and that’s the first crucial step toward getting consumers and businesses to want Windows devices.