Yesterday was a big day for Microsoft, as they got their now-annual Build conference underway. Considered a parallel to Google’s I/O and Apple’s WWDC conferences, Build is where Microsoft announces well, “the future”. While normally Microsoft announcements wouldn’t interest us quite so much, the firm has become more of a cross-platform brand over the past couple of years, and with this latest announcement, things are going even further. Microsoft understands that developing apps for Windows hasn’t been easy over the past few years, thanks to Windows 8 and now Windows 10, but they’ve been trying hard to make it easier for not just Windows, but Android and iOS, too.
Not too long ago, Microsoft acquired the developer firm Xamarin, which specialized in making it easy to come as close to “coding once” for many different platforms. Xamarin was the firm that helped create the Mono programming language, and they’re now part of Microsoft. During Build 2016, the software giant announced new Xamarin tools that would allow developers to take a Windows UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps to convert them to Android and iOS apps. The idea here being that if developers could be enticed into developing new apps for Windows under the pretense that they could use this code elsewhere, then Microsoft will benefit. Besides, Microsoft also have their OneDrive cloud storage solution that they’ll no doubt want developers to use across different platforms.
The example that Microsoft used on stage was the UWP Microsoft Health app, which is also available on Android and iOS. These tools are freely available for developers, and it marks another example of the “new” Microsoft looking to appeal to everyone out there, rather than just loyal Microsoft fans and developers. It’s an approach that might work well for Microsoft, a firm that is forging ahead with new Artificial Intelligence programs such as Cortana and consumer products on their way like the HoloLens. This is the sort of news that will inspire developers, but this sort of cross-platform approach will ultimately be good for all of us in the long run. They even announced a Linux command line and Ubuntu coming to Windows 10, now that doesn’t sound like the old Microsoft at all, does it?