Microsoft is hosting its big developer conference in San Francisco this week, and one of the big themes is how much nicer Microsoft is toward iOS and Android under its new CEO, Satya Nadella.
The company even did several demos on stage using iPhones. This would have been unheard of just a few years ago.
Plus it announced a new foundation for open-source projects, where apps and projects are freely available for anyone to use, the .Net Foundation. Those projects will help developers write apps for “other platforms,” not just Windows, said Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie. Guthrie is the new cloud and enterprise chief, the job that Nadella was doing before he became CEO.
On top of that, it released new tools that help programmers write Android and iOS apps hosted on Microsoft’s cloud, Azure.
Interestingly, it didn’t show any actual Microsoft employees holding an iPhone. And Nadella was nowhere near these demos when they happened. (His keynote was yesterday.)
Instead, it invited Grant Peterson, CTO of a company called e-signature company DocuSign, on stage during Guthrie’s keynote. DocuSign and Microsoft are partners who just signed an agreement that lets Office 365 subscribers sign documents without leaving Microsoft’s Office apps.
Peterson showed off an iPhone document-signing app that uses Microsoft’s cloud, Azure.
He held up the iPhone and joked, “Here’s a device I never expected to show on stage at a Microsoft conference.”
A few minutes later, another iPhone app was demonstrated by Miguel de Icaza of Xamarin, a company working to bring Microsoft software development tools work with non-Microsoft technologies.
This is the second year in a row Microsoft used Apple devices during Build. Last year, before Nadella was CEO, he chose to use a Mac in a demo, not touching it himself, but having others show off how Microsoft’s cloud could be used to create an iPhone app.
Given skyrocketing sales of non-Windows devices, it’s critical to Microsoft’s cloud to win over all sorts of developers, especially those writing iPhone apps.
The Mac demo last year shocked people at Microsoft, one former employee told Business Insider. Nadella was making the point that using another company’s technology, even in public, shouldn’t matter. That’s a big shift in Microsoft’s culture, and a smart one.
Here’s a photo of the DocuSign iPhone demo during Build 2014.
Here’s a closeup of the DocuSign iPhone app that runs on Microsoft’s cloud.