What Microsoft really needs are developers, developers, developers
Microsoft’s annual developer conference ‘Build’ 2012 will open its doors on the 31st in Redmond, Washington. This conference will give developers a chance to find out more about developing on the myriad of new platforms which Microsoft have recently unleashed on the world – Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8.
Microsoft is keeping tight-lipped on the exact content of their technological sessions which will take place throughout the conference, but many are anticipating the new morsels of technical information to be had regarding Microsoft’s’ new ecosystem, and perhaps more importantly, how Microsoft plan on developing this ecosystem in the future.
Windows 8 supports a unified interface made up of both touch and gestures. Kinect, in contrast, allows for fully gesture-based control via the use of its sensors, and allows for depth checking and voice recognition via its camera and microphone attachments.
A number of users complain that touch use is an unnatural addition to the PC environment, but with Kinect it may be possible to reclaim an intuitive interface via gesture based navigation of the operating system. Developers interested in this route may be able to glean some new methodologies from the conference on how to use Kinect effectively in PC applications.
Smartglass is a multi-directional streaming application which allows for interaction with an Xbox360 via a Windows 8 based tablet or PC. As it stands, Smartglass seems more like a toy than a real app, as functions which truly support it are few and far between – at present, the only thing you can do with it is watch Xbox-streamed video content on a tablet.
The fate of Smartglass falls on what exactly it can be used for in the future; be it playing Xbox games through a tablet, or using a tablet to interface with a PC. Indications of the future development of Smartglass are anticipated for this years Build event.
Cross Platform Development
Microsoft is trying hard to provide a multi-platform OS platform, but have a notorious history for failure in this area. However with the recent boom in mobile devices, Microsoft can no longer rely on their desktop versions of Windows and Office alone to keep them afloat.
Microsoft has had one instance of multi-platform success in the past. That is with their game development environment which supported multi-platform development of video games on both Xbox360 and PC. Applications which work seamlessly across all kinds of PC, smartphone, and tablet device will be the key to Microsoft’s success in a world where the line separating these types of devices has become blurred.
Conclusion: If you build apps, they will come.
As Windows 8 has already been released, some of the excitement has been lost from this years Build conference; however, this release makes the conference that much more important. Windows 8 is one of the most talked about issues amongst developers right now.
The reason that Microsoft has had numerous successes in the past can be traced to the must-have applications built by their vast wealth of supporting developers. If these developers decide to jump ship to another platform, Microsoft may just find themselves clinging to the ledge of a steep cliff, overlooking a precipice ruled by the likes of Apple and Android.
Microsoft must appeal to developers and get them on board the Windows 8/RT/Windows Phone 8 train by all means necessary, and Build 2012 will be the place to do that. This may be the beginning of a new era, or the beginning of the end for Microsoft.