Microsoft's transformation isn't just words, we're now seeing the action

Just before Build 2015 began, I had the privilege to sit in on a special presentation by Microsoft's General Manager of Developer Experience, Bryan Biniak. He was speaking to a room full of press from all over the world, gathered for the annual IFA Global Press Conference weekend, this year in the sunny climbs of Malta.

It was a big deal for the event, as they'd never had Microsoft on board as a partner before. But after the presentation, and now after the Build day 1 keynote, the puzzle pieces of Microsoft's ambitious plans are starting to fit together.

Bryan Biniak

I'll admit, it's very easy to hear the talk and mark it down as an elaborate marketing strategy. But there were a couple of key quotes in last weeks presentation that make more sense than ever before after the Build keynote.

"If it touches a consumer, a business, we want to be there""A key thing since Satya Nadella came on (as CEO) is building bridges, opening up Microsoft software and services to everyone."

And that's exactly where we're going. On a consumer level, Windows 10 will be on everything we use to work and play. Which other company can boast the same software running on a mobile device as on a games console? The Universal App Platform, carrier billing, unified store. Everything, everywhere. A truly unparalleled experience.

For developers though, the bridge building is going far and wide. Microsoft is openly welcoming Android, iOS and web developers to Windows 10. 'Empowering' each of them to leverage their already completed hard work and open up a new userbase and revenue stream where once they may have stayed away. New tools for developers using Mac OS X and Linux, too. Areas once out of reach brought to Windows 10.

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code (Image credit: Windows Central)

The app gap is one of the Windows followers favorite topics to talk/complain about. It affects us all. Personally speaking, Pocket Casts closed my own app gap a little further this week, and the developers support for the platform is welcomed. No-one likes not being able to use the things their friends all talk about, or moving from another mobile platform to find their favorite apps just aren't represented. It sucks. Microsoft knows this.

But one thing that can no longer be intimated, is that Microsoft is lazy. Microsoft should be doing more to get xxx service (insert Snapchat where appropriate) onto Windows and Windows Phone. With the new developer tools announced at Build, Microsoft is doing about everything it possibly can to get things rolling. Whether it works, maybe we'll consider that more in 12-18 months from now.

So, empowering. Consumers, developers, creators, Windows 10 looks to have something for all of us. Microsoft is ever changing its business model, with one of the biggest the offering of Windows 10 as a free upgrade for the first year. It's opening up new revenue streams to become less reliant on the likes of Windows to make its money.

And we're all going to benefit. How much? That's still the $64,000 question.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

102 Comments
  • Would like to know the $64,000 answer.
    Satya is surely going the right way.
  • They have open the fair for the vendors, those who ignore the crowd either they are stupid or they have personal vendettas against MS
  • Exactly what I've been saying, else they are getting some sort of compensation for not developing for MS.
  • Agree
  • Nah, MS is just a lumbering elephant while devs have long since jack rabbited past it. MS is still rebooting and hitting reset buttons. Nobody wants to sign on until they pick something and dedicate to it.
  • What are you? Living in 2005 still?  
  • Yep. Microsoft has struck the right chords with this. Hope it all comes together soon.
  • Why $64.000?
  • Yeah, why not 64.001$??
  • $64.0002!
  • What is this, JavaScript?
  • Seriously?!?!?  It's an old game show...
  • Yeah, I got that right away. These young kids, though... smh
  • Seriously. $69,000 or go home.
  • Exciting times ahead! Great time to be a Microsoft fan!
  • Funny thing is the article says that Ms isn't just hyping some marketing...no shit, marketing is not MS's forte...
  • Totally agree. It certainly goes for Microsoft here in the Netherlands. Marketing is certainly not a prio over here...
  • I'm from Malta! :D
  • Really great going with Mr. Satya. Hope to see a more good things in the future.
  • I guarantee you, Snapchat still wont publish the app. Bastards....
  • What about Family Guy too?
  • Why?
  • Snapchat's CEO is a douchebag, that's why
  • If douchbags like him are still unwilling to port apps, the next step would be to allow sideloading apps. Let a third party developer like Rudy Huyn make an app. Snapchat will ask for it to be removed. You comply, but the installation file will be widely available to download and sideload. It will reduce security, but it might be MS only solution to ahole developers who refuse to support MS products even though MS bends over backwards trying to help them build the app, even offering to pay for development.
  • That's not the way the new Microsoft does business. That's more the way Google operates. Microsoft wants everyone to get along, and won't step on anyone's toes. As far as those that refuse to make apps available, there will come a day that if they don't, they will be left out in the cold. I give it 5 years and Microsoft will have at least 30% of the market that Android currently has, if not more.
  • If you hate snapchat so much, just move to another messaginng service. I don't understand the continuous battering of this company. Sure, they suck, but we have other options.
  • It's kind of a skeevy app anyway.   
  • I wonder why everyone keeps crapping about Snapchat??? OK, it was fun when I had it on Android but really aren't missing it on my Lumia 930... If they don't develop it for Windows Phone : their loss.  
  • Don't know why but I strongly feel that this is going to be their last try for windows phone...because they are literally trying everything to make WP more 'existing'...and if this strategy doesn't work then I guess they will give up on WP ( that's what I feel)
  • Yep they are not holding anything back. But it's a fairly long game say 12-18 months. Let's see if we can get up to 20% or more IOS apps ported during that time frame, then we know for sure this is working!
  • You're still missing the point of 10... It's not the device, it's the OS.
  • I have to agree. The only thing that MS can do to make it easier for developers is to build apps themselves and submit it to the developers. Oh wait..
  • They have a lot of apps and more than a enough. They don't have the phones for the US market to take off. No refresh of the 1520 or 1020 either or both would have been ideal. They already establish there is a market for a wp but to build a device with such low specs at almost they same cost you can buy an older Galaxy or HTC, etc and have a more powerful phone is what's hurting.
  • If you can't beat em... Join em. This strategy, if it works, will could make the Windows Store crazy huge in a short time. This is exciting.
  • I'm excited and optimistic and pleased with the overwhelming majority of what I'm seeing and hearing... ...this isn't going to be overnight, though. So let's all just wait and see before anybody says "we're saved"...or..." we're doomed" (the latter laughable conclusion leap seems to be one these comments threads is plagued with, though). I will say that this makes me glad I don't get to upgrade my phone til Jul 2016. It gives MS plenty of time to let this all come into bloom. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • My Nokia 928 goes of contract from Verizon in May.  My wife and Son's iPhone 5s went off contract in February.  Neither one has thought to upgrade.  I dont need to upgrade.  Both phones wrok great.  However, my phone is the only one that will work outside of the US.  I suspect once Windows 10 is released, I will update my phone and see how it works.  My only complaint is the flash stopped working several months after I bought it and I never did anything about it until after the one year warrantee expired. I ordered the Surface 3 yesterday from Costco ($750 tax included with a pen and type cover - 4 GB with 128 GB SSD).  I also loaded my quickbooks file to Sharepoint today.  NOw I can seamlessly run my accounting from any device with quickbooks.  Just think if Quickbooks will port the app to Windows 10 and allow a windows phone compatable app to allow me to be even more mobile? Micorsoft is doing all the things I need to do to make my life very easy.
  • great article :)
  • No, they haven't gone far enough on the development side.  What they should do is turn Visual Studio into a universal development platform to compete with Eclipse. VS is great for developing MS projects, and now converting existing iOS and Android apps.  But where VS should be focused is creating a truely universal development studio. Example: I want to develop a mobile app.  I want to write it once - in whatever language I prefer (rather know) and then be able to compile it for every platform. In the old days, MSDN and Visual Studio helped MS win the PC war. It was far easier and cheaper to develop for the PC than it was for the Mac.  The Visual Studio team really should be thinking about how they can build a better Eclipse - they have the foundation, it just needs the breath. You win the war by getting the iOS developer to choose Visual Studio to develop his app, rather than anything else.  
  • Right, but doesn't Apple stipulate that iOS apps are made in Obj C or Swift and using OS X development tools? Correct me if I'm wrong, but Apple wants its devs using its hardware only.
  • They did announce Visual Studio Code, a code optimized editor also available on OSX and Linux.  It's like Visual Studio's baby brother. It's, free, has great intellisense, git integration, debugging, etc.  If I recall, it was pitched as a great tool for all sorts of projects.  LOL, its right in a photo of the event in the article.
  • What it allows you to do is take your iOS App and Android app and convert it to a Windows App.  It won't help you develop both ways. My point is that MS is only making it easy for developers who write iOS and Android to convert to MS - but why not the other way around? How about giving the ability of someone writting a Windows Phone app to turn around and compile it for iOS and Android? This is a losing strategy because someone will always have to write their app for the other platforms first, then convert it to MS.  Sure, that will help people convert existing apps to MS - but in the end it still says build there first, then come here.  The winning strategy would be come here and publish everywhere. If MS can convert one way, they should be able to conver the other.  
  • ... no, Visual Studio code is a smart editor, not a tool for converting apps to Windows ... By the way, have you seen how Microsoft has integrated the Android emulators and iOS remote debugging into Visual Studio? And integrating Cordova and Xamarin into the IDE to do exactly what you're saying they're not doing?
  • It makes sense what you're saying, but perhaps this is just step 1.  We don't know what else they're working on or planning to work on behind those magic doors.  
  • And this. A truly universal app would be like..like...nothing else!
  • You'll have this whenever Apple decides to open up iOS...so there. :P
    I do agree they need one for Linux but a lot of developers dev on Windows but just connect to Unix boxes.
     
  • Exciting times, and thanks for all the build articles. Not sure I have been so pleased at a conference article stream. Read nearly every article, and 95% of the news just blew me away. Any chance you guys will do a video run down of all the new items?
  • Everyone loves Satya again lol. People were blaming on him for everything.
  • That tells you a lot about the commenters...
  • I think its a great strategy and I know that this is great thing for games like Clash Of Clans the developer can bring it to Lumia and Windows. I find Lumia sound better than windows phone. But developers like WB and ea may bring their games like injustice , mortal combat and WWE to both Lumia and windows.. And I is really possible.. I am very happy with the objective c (iOS apps) and android apps support not really but it can save windows phone.
  • It's not a great strategy long term.  Sure, it will help people convert apps to MS platform, but only after they are written for iOS or Android. That will help them play catch-up, but ultimately it will force developers to build for iOS and Android first, then convert - as you can't go the other way. Strategically speaking, this reinfoces MS in the 3rd position. A better strategy would be to develop a truely wite once and publish everywhere - not only to Win10, but to iOS and Android as well. Only then will the tables turn in MS favor.  Developers would come to Visual Studio to build and publish their apps - this puts MS in front, not the back.
  • Check out Xamarin, it does exactly what you're saying, uses C#, works with Visual Studio, and is heavily promoted by Microsoft. Code an app in C# and build it for Windows, Android and iOS.
  • Not a word about phones in any of the keynotes. Was hoping for a 'one more thing' with Elop coming to stage with hints of a future.
  • Developer conference. Phones will come at phone type events.
  • HoloLens thingy got lots of attention and don't think it will be generally available any time soon.
  • Right... Because HoloLens is new tech and needs developers to start from square 1. Phones have been confirmed. They'll be announced when they're ready.
  • I think Hololens will probably be released sometime early next year. If they can get Christmas of this year, that would be profound but I highly doubt it. Definitely next year though.
  • They showed off some of the Windows 10 phone OS, but don't expect to see specifics on hardware until closer to launch, so summer time.
  • It seemed there were some hints in the continuum discussion.  There will presumably need to be top-end phones to run that feature.
  • That's true. They did hint that something's coming. Forgot that :)
  • By doing this, though MS has made developers powerful, it has also made them a bit more accountable. Accountable in the sense that now they, seeing how easy it will be to port code from other platforms, will have to provide an answer to their non-existence on one platform and that's great.
  • Developers will have to provide an answer?  To whom, you? Users here? Wow, that's really arrogant.  How about, I don't know, free will?
  • what about their users/customers? Even their potential customers, not good to be rude to them and refuse what is now an even more reasonable accomodation.
  • You truly do not understand what I mean.
    I mean that they will have to comment now about them not being on a platform.
    It's not a government kind of answer. Stop being the all knowing guy, will you? -_-
  • Actually, what MS has done is to put them further behind. Yes, it will allow developers to convert apps to Win10 easily, but the workflow does not change. It will still be more efficient for a developer to build for iOS and Android first and then port it to Windows because that step is so easy.  No one is going to develop for MS first, then completely rewrite their code for iOS and Android - that is too much work. MS is still in 3rd with this strategy. A winning strategy is to woo back all the development community to Windows.  To do that, Visual Studio needs to take the next step and be able to convert MS apps over to iOS and Android. That flips the paradigm.  Now a developer will come to Visual Studio and build it for Win 10, iOS and Android all at the same time.  
  • That is something that Microsoft has been working on. Xamarin was a start, but Microsoft is working on making it easier, more efficient, and more productive.  The main problem with your strategy is that people would have to WANT to code for Windows first. Right now, they don't. They don't see the profit in Windows. They see profit in iOS and Android. Microsoft's strategy is simple here: Get the apps ported, close the app gap, and users will abandon Android for Windows because of the better experience. Not all users, but quite enough to make developers want to start coding for Windows first. According to recent surveys, 40% of Android users would switch but don't because of the app gap. Only 47% of Android users are satisfied with their device, while closer to 90% of WP users are satisfied with the device. Many Android users want a 3rd option. They just haven't seen a 3rd option they see as viable. If Windows 10 helps to close the app gap, then it will be viable and people will come.
  • When I bought a Windows 7 phone instead of an iPhone in 2010, it was my hope that MS would put together an integrated ecosystem like this.  I didn't think it would take so long, but it seems that MS is now on the brink.  The next step is to see how it works and evaluate its success or failure.   The vision looks pretty good at this point.  It will be an interesting next year for sure.
  • The thing is: they had this unified ecosystem through Silverlight. They just choose to reinvent the wheel again and again. In fact, most VS features shown this year were requested by devs since 2010. It was the Win team prohibiting most of this. Satya Nadella indeed changed a lot... Question is, will the dev world forgive MS?
  • Silverlight is great, but it is MS only.  Sure, if MS didn't take 3-years to go from Win 6.5 devices (back when they owned the smartphone market) to Win 7 (birth of iPhone + several revisions, birth of Android), they may have been able to get away with it, but not any more. Now they have to play catch-up and HTML5 is what everyone else choose as their future. Silverlight lost that war because Steveo was enamored with the way Apple did things.  Yes, they had 96% of the PC market, but Steveo wanted that last 4% and the way he was going to do it was to do things the Apple way. Closed systems, proprietary tech and lock everyone else out. Win 8.0 was the ultimate defination of that moment, "You will now work this way!" Low and behold, as MS moved to the Apple that left Google to do it the old MS way. Hey we are open, here are a bunch of tools, build what you want out of them. I'm glad to see that MS is moving back to their roots, but they still have a lot of ground to make up.
  • For all of Apple's insatiable arrogance, the idea of using software that isn't bastardize to appeal to the lowest common denominator, like Windows 10, is making them really appealing right now. The relationship between me and Apple products is still similar to holy water and infidels. But I'm coming around to the idea of buying from a company that's not everyone's bitch.
  • So now you want to be the bitch. That doesn't help you...
  • Yes, well, Win 10 is a move in the right direction.  Win 8 wanted you to be its bitch.  It was a move to force people to a touch paradigm before the world was ready for it. Win 8 should have been the blend - a mixture of the old and new, a stepping stone. Sure do it the old way, but here is some cool new stuff you can do. Steveo wanted everyone to be his bitch - that is his nature.  He won the war, got 96% of the PC market, but damn it, he wanted that last 4% and he was going to do it by adopting the loosing strategy. Today, MS has to make up for years