Maybe Microsoft's weird app strategy is working after all

Today, driver-on-demand app Uber comes to Microsoft Windows 10 — making it the first time ever, that Uber has been available from a desktop PC.

In addition to the normal Uber functionality, the Windows 10 app will let you order a car by speaking to Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant, according to a blog entry.

Also, this new app supports Windows 10 Live Tiles, so you don’t have to open the app to see how long you have until your Uber arrives.

And as a so-called “universal app,” it means that the app will work on your Windows 10 desktop, tablet, and, in the unlikely event you own one, Windows 10 Mobile phone.

That’s cool. But taking a step back, it’s a coup for Microsoft, and a sign that maybe, just maybe, Microsoft’s curious Windows 10 app strategy is starting to work.

App strategy

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has long championed Windows 10 as an app developer’s dream.

Thanks to what Microsoft calls the “Universal Windows Platform,” or UWP, an app developer just has to program their app once, and it will run on any Windows 10 device anywhere, from PCs to tablets to smartphones to, eventually, the funky futuristic HoloLens holographic goggles.

But uptake of the Windows Store app market has been severely limited, for both developers and customers.

Because Microsoft’s Windows phones have barely made a dent in the global smartphone market, there’s not a lot of incentive for app developers to bring their wares to Windows 10 versus, say, the money-making iPhone.

Uber windows 10UberUber on the Windows 10 desktop.

As a result, the Windows Store has largely languished since Windows 10 launched over the summer.

Just last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella urged patience, saying that Windows 10’s swift uptake in consumer markets and the enterprise alike meant that eventually, the Windows Store would be too big for app makers to ignore.

Scepticism, though, runs rampant. Even former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer pooh-poohed Nadella’s plan, saying “that won’t work. He apparently thinks that Microsoft should perform the Hail Mary of getting Windows 10 Mobile to run Android apps, instead of trying to attract developers to Windows.

Uber live tilesUberLive Tiles in Windows 10 show you an Uber’s arrival time before it actually arrives.

And so, getting Uber on Windows 10, as an official universal app, is a huge coup for Microsoft and Nadella. It means that Uber, at least, thinks that Windows 10 is worth the time and energy to support.

Once the promised Facebook apps for Windows 10 also come out, Windows 10 will really be cooking with gas. And Microsoft is obviously hoping that where Uber and Facebook go, the world will follow.

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