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All posts tagged Universal Apps

Snapchat, you know who they are, right?

What the hell Snapchat? GSMArena threw the world of Windows Phone all a tizzy this morning with the announcement that in a dramatic reversal, Snapchat are working closely with Microsoft to build an app for Windows Phone. To be fair, by the end of the post GSMArena mention in passing these are the unconfirmed comments of a member of Lumia Support in Spain.

Snapchat - Snapchat

Their CEO, Evan Spiegel has been notorious in his disdain for the platform in the past, and became the object of dislike amongst Windows Phone users for blocking 3rd party apps. Snapchat had cited security concerns as the reason for the ban, after their user database of 4.6 million users was hacked at the start of 2014. Many felt this was a convenient excuse and wondered why, when so many companies were capable of releasing secure APIs allowing 3rd party development, Snapchat couldn’t.

Snapchat - Evan Spiegel on Windows Phone

 Recently Snapchat have released an API that seems limited to their earth-shaking foray into the world of advertising. Why the possible reversal on Windows Phone now?

Satya Hit Snooze On Windows Phone…

Windows Phone has allegedly died more times than Kenny in South Park or Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow combined. Still the platform has clearly evolved from Windows Phone, the Lumia handsets (and OEMs) to Windows 10 Mobile. With Microsoft’s shift in focus to the OS and Universal Apps one might think they are all but out of the handset business.

With the rumors of the Surface or Panay phone coming, Microsoft are hard pressed to choose between marketing the absolutely fabulous Lumia 950 / 950XL. Especially as these may be the last of the Lumia brand. The Surface phone is expected to be a radical reimagining of Microsoft’s mobile hardware strategy, combining incredible design, the evolution of features like Continuum, Hello & Cortana. Most important the Surface Phone is expected to be a PC in your pocket. A handset capable of running 32 (possibly 64) bit applications.

With the announcement of advances in Universal Apps and a 32 Bit Desktop to Universal App converter tool at BUILD 2016, we saw how this strategy ties together.

The Warptest POV

No one is expecting the arrival of Snapchat alone on Windows 10 Mobile to suddenly cause drastic changes in market share. However, since apps like WhatsApp, Vine, Facebook (Beta), Facebook Messenger and many more are going full force into Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile with Universal Apps (WhatsApp is not Universal) perhaps, Snapchat woke up and smelt the coffee.

The market share being fought over here (or ignored until now) are the 300 million+ and growing, Windows 10 devices of all types.

Snapchat is huge, Hillel Fuld has told us this, Gary Vaynerchuk has told us this. So is it too weird or fantastical to speculate that Satya might want to buy Snapchat and this is how Windows 10 Mobile is getting Snapchat?

After all, Microsoft just bought LinkedIn and that blew our minds.

For similar reasons, to gain access to the customer database and then to resolve some of the issues Snapchat still has like user search, limited API, analytics (where the <redacted> are the analytics?) doesn’t it suddenly make some weird kind of sense? Microsoft could do all this… Still this is just speculation.

If Windows 10 Mobile gets a universal Snapchat app, many Windows Phone owners will be happy. Then the only major social apps missing will be Periscope and a personal favorite, ZCast.

So do you think we’ll see a Universal Snapchat app?

Windows Phone Is Still Fighting…

Still there are many people out there who don’t see any future for it. Robert Scoble has never made bones about his belief that the app parity Windows Phone experiences is a huge factor in the small market share Microsoft has been able to garner and last he hammered the nail in again.

The truth is Microsoft made 3 substantial mistakes in their mobile strategy: –

  • Steve Ballmer’s famous quote about iPhone was the definitive moment for Microsoft mobile strategy for several years, leaving them way behind.
    • Failure to build a competitive developer community for apps where Startups with limited funds would make Windows Phone apps a part of their roadmap and strategy.
    • Microsoft once they realized these two mistakes were slow to iterate past Windows Mobile, which was “Let’s put Windows on a small screen.”
    • Twitter friend @gaborfari was kind enough last night to give me input on one more very important reason

What did Microsoft do right?

  1. Windows Phone and Metro UI. The Windows Phone UI and Live Tiles were a glorious change in smartphone UI/UX which influenced the designs of others. (Put a phone with Android’s Material Design next to a Windows Phone and tell me the word homage doesn’t occur).
  2. Reducing hardware restrictions for OEMs. By doing so and making Windows 10 free for 7″ and smaller devices Microsoft made it affordable for OEMs to invest in Windows Phone handsets.
  3. Windows 10 as a mature ecosystem. Windows 8 had issues and fighting for desktop and handsets was too bigger fight combined with the fragmentation of Windows 8, RT and Phone. Windows 10 is effectively one OS that behaves / responds based on the device it’s on.
  4. Universal Apps. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again) This may be the Holy Grail for app developers, one app that works on mobile and desktop.

Windows Phone - Universal Apps - Holy Grail

  1. Windows Phone as an Android ROM. Microsoft provided Xiaomi with a Windows 10 ROM for their flagship Android Mi4 handset to broach the Chinese market. By all accounts the experiment worked well. (Theoretically one could have a dual ROM Android / Windows Phone device should one desire the geek cred).

Windows Phone - ROM on Xiaomi Mi4

  1. Windows Phone hits India. Microsoft offered a variety of affordable handsets worldwide but especially in India. The Indian smartphone market is predominantly Android but several OEMs in India now make Windows Phones in addition to the Lumia line.

Is Robert Scoble Right?

He is correct that Microsoft needs to entice more developers onto the platform and I was hoping he was going to offer some insight on how he would do that. He seems convinced that the “market has already picked its phones”. Master blogger and marketing ace Hillel Fuld provides some insights in the comments to the Facebook post on how he thinks Microsoft might succeed.

There are a few factors that make the mobile market consistently volatile; go back a few years and tell people to kiss Nokia and Blackberry goodbye and you’d probably be laughed all the way home.

The things Microsoft did right tie together. Assaulting the Indian and Chinese markets shows that CEO Satya Nadella continues to employ his insights on untapped foreign markets. These markets are ripe not just for consumer handset ownership but also for building robust developer communities. He’s in India evangelizing to startups right now.

Universal Apps is huge and many Startups and larger companies are waking up to the fact. The sheer number of devices running Windows 10 is to be ignored at one’s peril. I know of several Startups who have realized this and are making the leap. Having one app that will allow you increase your user base on desktop and mobile?

Why would anyone invest in a company that ignores that kind of potential?

But it’s not just Startups, drone maker Parrot have advertised through their French offices for someone to run a project to outsource a Windows 10 Universal App and there are new Universal Apps appearing in the store every day.

Windows Phone - Parrot Universal App

Image courtesy of the official US Parrot Site.

Turning a disadvantage into an advantage: go to the iPhone App Store or Google Play Store and oversaturation isn’t the word. Getting noticed is a colossal endeavor but the disadvantage of Windows Phone means a huge opportunity as more and more developers build their Universal Apps before the Windows Store becomes oversaturated too.

Windows 10 Phones have rolled out some game changing features including Continuum and Hello. Continuum means your primary productivity device is your phone and all you need is a monitor and your Continuum dock.

The Warptest POV

I’ve been a Windows Phone user since Windows Mobile’s earliest days. I won’t deny that or the level of personal investment / passion. My new Lumia 950XL is being shipped to me over the holidays. Do I believe Robert Scoble is right or wrong? He’s right about one thing, it’s up to Microsoft whether they succeed in bringing more developers onboard or not.

That said, don’t just ask Developers who are strongly invested in the status quo about if radical change can succeed. The first line of attack is the startups. Microsoft needs to demonstrate the ROI of Universal Apps to those sitting on the fence. In addition, building stronger community, offering help to app developers and hosting events like Hackathons worldwide focused on getting new apps onto Windows Phone.

For what it’s worth, I’d be working just as hard on those learning to develop. Tomorrows app developers are just waiting and have a lot less baggage or prejudice. Microsoft needs a strong, active presence on campuses working with students to show them the potential of Windows Phone and at the same don’t wait for people to walk into Windows Stores in the US / UK, get out there and put Windows Phones into consumers’ hands to try out. People need their perception of Windows Phone to be shaken and then have them pass on that experience to their friends and family.

Hillel Fuld is correct when he writes that solving battery issues, screen fragility and other problems is another big way that Microsoft can increase market share.

Meanwhile Microsoft isn’t satisfied with the new phone it has. Rumors of a “spiritual equivalent to Surface” phone were (sort of) addressed by Microsoft’s CMO in an interview with Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley. Earlier rumors spoke of a Surface Phone and many hoped this meant a high-end phone, the gorgeous spun magnesium case with kickstand but then the big rumors began flying. This was going to be an Intel powered phone capable of running 32 bit apps. Your desktop in your pocket. Still this is unconfirmed as is the end of Q2 2016 arrival. Meanwhile with CES 2016 kicking off tomorrow there are sure to be other Windows Phone handsets announced.

When you look at all these factors I’m confident Microsoft is going to do amazing things in mobile. When the Lumia 950XL arrives I’ll be sure to share my impressions.

I’ll end by paraphrasing Mark Twain, “Reports of Windows Phone’s demise are greatly exaggerated.”

==================================

Moments ago I got a tweet from Hillel Fuld which indeed made me laugh. I’m comparing my thoughts on the subject to his and if you read this I recommend you read his post from 2012 on the subject (see embedded tweet for link) and follow him on Twitter and elsewhere for a stream of insightful content:

The Windows 10 Devices Presentation From New York…

… delivered on so many levels but ultimately Microsoft showed a unified direction, a collective energy unmatched by any other event so far this year and incredible devices running Windows 10.

Many people were concerned that without Joe Belfiore onstage we couldn’t expect the best, however what we got was clearly the best and brightest that Redmond has to offer, their A-Team; Terry Myerson bounded on stage to introduce the event and talk about Hololens followed by Lindsey Maltese of the Microsoft Band team, talking about the Band 2, then we got to see the incredible Panos Panay bring his incredible energy to the stage about Surface and Lumia devices with Bryan Roper dazzling us with Lumia and Continuum.

The livestream event ran for a whopping 95 minutes and every bit of this time was maximized to deliver the new Windows 10 Devices across the spectrum. Devices that across the board are best of breed.

If you find the last statement hard to believe then I suggest you watch the presentation for yourself right here.

The Unified Message

It became rapidly apparent that besides the very genuine enthusiasm and passion the presenters brought onstage, the central theme or message behind the livestream event was that all the Windows 10 Devices were designed without compromise to ensure maximum productivity.

Whatever you want to do with the device in front of you Microsoft intends to ensure you can be your most productive whilst using that device; with Windows 10 as the enabler. In addition, each presenter made strong mention of the ever increasing number of partners working with Microsoft on Windows 10, Universal Apps and new Windows 10 Devices.

Terry Myerson kicked of the event by letting us have some adoption stats for Windows 10: –

Windows 10 Devices - stats

Devices, Devices, Devices…

HOLOLENS.. a glimpse of the future of mixed reality, immersive gaming. If you’re not excited by this you must be catatonic

BAND 2

LUMIA 950 & 950 XL and the LUMIA 550

SURFACE PRO4.. with a new pen with built-in eraser and interchangeable tips and tight app integration.

SURFACE BOOK.. Microsoft’s first laptop, designed to be the ultimate lightweight, super-powered productivity device.

Amazing accessories which are backwards compatible with the SURFACE PRO3

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Screencaps of Windows 10 Devices Livestream courtesy of my Lumia 810

The way we work and interact with our personal computers is evolving. The first phase was touch, then we moved to personal assistants aboard like Cortana & Siri, form factors have changes with hybrid devices, tablets and others but the Windows 10 Devices Event showed an ecosystem of devices with a shared platform, portability based on the user and incredibly engineered and designed user experiences from mixed reality gaming on Hololens, a wearable that guides and interacts with our exercise, environment and other devices in the Band 2, incredible new phones in the Lumia 950 and 950XL which have achieved the Holy Grail of a true pocket PC thru Windows 10 and Continuum, biometric recognition for login and purchase in Windows Hello and to quote Panos Panay true “lapability” with the next evolutions of the laptop in the Surface Pro4 and the stunning new Surface Book.

Each of these are best of breed devices whose impact will undoubtedly change the way we work and play, change ease of use and our productivity.

All of this made possible by Windows 10 but the secret sauce Microsoft displayed at this event isn’t just winning hardware and incredible designs that beat the pants off the competition, it’s the passion and enthusiasm, the unified vision displayed by the Windows 10 Devices team. If Panos Panay is the King of Presentations, then Bryan Roper is the Crown Prince.

The Warptest POV

As we’ve mentioned in the past, the secret sauce that pulls Windows 10 Devices and OS integration tightly together are Universal Apps but the combination of amazing devices that combine the last word in productivity, portability and some very clever accessories with the presenters had seasoned tech reporters and bloggers giving standing ovations. When was the last time Microsoft got a standing ovation?

It should be clear that the direction and vision that Satya Nadella chose is coming to fruition and after seeing the Lumia 950 and 950XL in action I feel sorry for the trolls and naysayers. This is a winning vision.

The level of confidence was clearly indicated in the way that almost every benchmark comparison of Windows 10 Devices was to an equivalent Apple device. This was done without snark or hostility, simply a comparison of performance, ours versus theirs. Well except for one comment about Apple’s pencil not having an eraser but hey, it was funny.

I decided that the POV section is best served by embedding some of my real time comments from Twitter / Facebook as I watched the event.

I just watched the Microsoft livestream for new #Windows10devices and I have never had delivery so exceed…

Posted by Warptest on Tuesday, 6 October 2015

 

Companies who are not buying into Universal Apps for #Windows10 are clearly lacking vision and are basically missing the…

Posted by Jonathan Ross on Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Many if not all these devices will be available towards the end of October. If you have the chance then go hands on for yourself and I bet you’ll understand why the standing ovation and again as Panos Panay said,

Microsoft brought the Thunder…

Windows Phone Had A Big Splash At BUILD 2015…

…As mentioned in my previous post, Microsoft blew the crowd at BUILD2105 away by announcing that the Universal App concept would include bringing iOS and Android apps aboard Windows Phone.

Many speculators on the subject had feared the worst that Microsoft would opt for a kludge solution: running an Android emulator or VM even to allow native Android apps to run on Windows Phone.

Instead Microsoft included iOS and Android apps by allowing Developers to recompile their code as Universal apps, on all Windows 10 devices.

Means, Motive and Opportunity…

How is Microsoft planning to do this?

Windows Phone as part of Universal Windows Platform

The Universal Windows Platform layout with thanks to Microsoft Blogs

Microsoft’s vision for Windows 10 across devices allows iOS and Android apps in through Project Astoria (Java/C++) and Project Islandwood (Objective C/C++); these are the Universal Windows Platform Bridge toolkits for reusing existing codes from these mobile platforms with small code changes.

Islandwood already has a signup for interested Developers and cites importing XCode into Visual Studio whilst Astoria mentions publishing and earning via the Windows Store.

This is a much more elegant solution than the other option but, where does it leave the existing, dedicated Windows Developers, especially those working with the Windows Phone SDK?

Whilst the graphic (top left) shows that development on Windows Platform of Universal apps (Windows 8, 10 and even classic 32 bit apps) persists one has to think about this strategy.

Windows Phone and Windows 8 suffered from certain big ticket apps either not investing in the platform or deciding not to maintain their Windows Phone versions. Microsoft would annually announce deals made to bring some of these apps onto Windows Phone but Smartphone platforms live or die based on app parity.

It is a hard sell for teens to adopt Windows Phone with apps like Snapchat who not only refuse to develop a Windows Phone app but actively and aggressively block 3rd party apps. That said, over the last months whilst several apps (e.g. some US Banks apps) were pulled from the Windows Store there had been some very interesting apps released. One example is the Marc Cuban funded Cyberdust a Snapchat killer that released supporting iOS, Android and Windows Phone. IMHO this was a startup getting it right and I know of several others who are moving to Windows Phone in fields like social video chat, livestreaming and others.

The truth is that the app parity situation is not as cut and dried as many would have us believe.

In addition, Microsoft have opted for three major strategies of late:

  1. The Microsoft Lumia phones released have been designed to target lower pricetags. There has been no talk of a high-end flagship Windows Phone of late. This seems to be a strategy designed to flood the market with a greater number of low end devices.
  2. Much of the unique value proposition of Windows Phone was in Cortana and Office on mobile. Office is already fully cross-platform and Cortana seems to be heading for Android if not iOS too.
  3. Microsoft has leveraged itself as a major app developer for iOS and Android, and not just Windows Phone; in some cases these are apps not yet developed for Windows Phone e.g. Office Delve and PowerBI Mobile.

You can compare for yourself: –

Microsoft apps on Windows Phone

Microsoft apps on Android

Microsoft apps on iOS

The picture is a confusing one and it leads one to wonder what Windows Phone developers took away from BUILD2015.

The Warptest POV

After speaking to several Windows Phone Developers there are those who feel disgruntled after their strong commitment to development in Windows Phone SDK. They don’t necessarily see the ROI of continuing to work with the SDK when they can just write Android or iOS apps and then recompile them as Universal Apps. In a nutshell they stuck with Microsoft through the challenging times of Windows 8 and now one of them told me he felt “thrown under the bus for the greater good…”

The truth is that Microsoft needs to keep the faith with its existing Developer community as much as it needs to entice users with apps that are on iOS and Android (and their developers) but the question is how?

The challenge is not just marketing to individual developers but StartUps and Enterprise companies with apps too. These apps won’t just need recompiling but maintaining after the fact.

Terry Myerson of Microsoft discusses some of the challenges here but it takes one of the biggest Windows Phone developers, Rudy Huyn on his blog to explain why Windows Phone Devs shouldn’t feel that the ground has shifted under them.

In a nutshell, Project Astoria and Islandwood are not seamless and many of the APIs used in iOS and Android will need serious effort to work on Windows Phone. This is only the beginning of the journey and if anything, Windows Phone Developers just became a much more valuable asset in getting this done and as Huyn states, Developers are no longer Windows Phone Devs.. they are Windows Devs.

Ultimately, In the Game of Phones who is winning and who is losing? Users will benefit and so will the Developers and the App creators: Startups, individuals or Enterprise will end up with Universal Apps across a complete ecosystem.

The one factor unmentioned is what Tim Cook and Larry Page feel about this development?

Especially the notoriously draconian Apple and Google who doesn’t miss a chance to continue feuding with Microsoft (more often than not) when it comes to mobile.

So between all this and the fact that Windows Continuum for Phones will require new hardware, we can expect more new apps and almost certainly new, high-end Windows Phones from Microsoft.

In the Game of Phones nothing ever rests and Microsoft may have just won the crown if they invest in their Dev Community building and evangelism even more. Now, it’s time to do the same for the consumers to show why Windows Phone is worthy of them.

Microsoft BUILD 2015 Is In Its Second Day…

… and as I read my Twitterfeed and watched clips I was fully expecting to hear big news but Microsoft managed to astound, impress and leave me with big questions.

 

As you read the comments and the sheer scope of innovation being launched it occurs that Microsoft is a company reborn with newly defined priorities and strategies.

A Few Days Later, What Do We Know?

Prior to the Microsoft BUILD I heard the rumors being touted by expert Windows blogger, Paul Thurrott that Windows Phone were biting the bullet and announcing support for Android Apps. If possible I had a stronger negative reaction to this news than Thurrott.

What I did not consider is where this slotted into a greater picture or ecosystem. This was my subsequent view of things:

Microsoft BUILD 2015 - Aspects image

The highlights and by no means all of the news from Microsoft BUILD was delivered in a succession of presentations. It seemed at one point that every sentence was a new release or innovation to a product.

The image above shows the main focus points, here are their highlights: –

WINDOWS 10:

  • Windows 10 for PCs will launch this summer with Windows Phone, Hololens and Surface Hub to follow.
  • Windows 10’s Project Spartan browser was officially named as Edge. Windows Insider participants can now download the latest release of Windows 10 and get Edge, a more Spartan take on the browser but one with the ability to (after small tweaks) use Chrome extensions, write onto webpages, have better touch control and use built-in Cortana. Edge will be exclusively Windows based, there are no plans to bring this to iOS, Mac, Android or Linux unlike Office or Cortana.
  • Cortana is evolving and integrating into apps, the example given of an event requiring travel will take you to Uber to book your trip.
  • Windows Spotlight will be a built in interactive, intelligent lock screen that will interact with the user.
  • Windows Continuum for Windows Phone: the promise of Tablets / Windows Phone as a PC has arrived by connecting the phone via HDMI to a larger screen.
  • Windows 10 UI / UX is giving users some familiar comfort with the return of the Aero Glass UI and overlapping and rescalable windows.
  • Xbox streaming of games to Windows 10 means that when you absolutely have to play the new version of HALO, you can during your coffee break at work from your laptop.
  • The Windows Store will be the central source for Windows Universal Apps and the big news is the implementation of carrier billing to make it easier to make store purchases.

Paul Thurrott got the news of Android Apps coming to Windows Phone mostly correct, in fact:

  • Developers can take their existing Android or iOS code and create apps for Windows 10 as Universal Apps. The truth is we should have known this was coming and there are a slew of challenges involved in getting this right.
  • It seems these apps will be available through the Windows Store and as Universal Apps will run on all Windows 10 devices.
  • There will be a version of Visual Studio called CODE that is already available for free download and several screenshots from BUILD show it running on Linux.
  • Microsoft also managed to wow the audience when delivering this news by running an iOS app on Windows 10 seamlessly.
  • There is so much more to this and Visual Studio support for Mac, Linux, iOS and Android, and not just using Xamarin. This deserves a post all to itself.
  • TFS yes that’s right, we’re getting Team Foundation 2015 with all it’s ALM, Testing and Build-y goodness and it appears to support much of the cross-platform innovations mentioned at Microsoft BUILD.

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With thanks to Microsoft News Center / Blogs for the assorted images

OFFICE:

  • Until now Office Graph and Delve have been limited to Microsoft information silos like Sharepoint and Exchange however, it appears the Microsoft want to truly leverage the power of smart content discovery to a greater variety of silos.
  • Office is getting into the wider app integration business with Outlook working with a variety of apps; in fact, Office will allow all sorts of apps to sit atop Office and work in concert with the existing Office apps. Again Uber was one such app mentioned.
  • Office itself will be delivering a stronger touch-oriented UX with Office 2016 for web, mobile (tablet / phone) and desktop.

AZURE:

  • Azure will be providing a variety of improved services including Azure SQL Data Warehouse (dare I call it DWHaS?), Azure Data Lake (a big data repo) and SQL Elastic DB (one Azure for all your databases).
  • All this followed the announcement just prior to BUILD of new micro-services.

HOLOLENS:

  • Hololens deservedly was the jewel in the crown of Microsoft BUILD with more demonstration of the holographic marvel.
  • Attendees were able to see an onstage demo of a holographic medical anatomy study app and a virtual pet dog.
  • Hololen also demonstrated that with minor changes Universal Apps could be turned into Hololens apps too.

The Warptest POV

It seems that Microsoft decided to take a shock and awe approach and as the title of this post says, Microsoft BUILD should have been called ReBUILD. There were some criticisms that this was an overly Developer oriented conference, which in turn received its own share of flak but let’s be honest; Microsoft BUILD is a conference for Developers about Dev related innovations.

The first line of offense in successfully selling Windows 10 and the other products has to be to the people who will choose this ecosystem to develop apps in.

The big target here (see the slideshow above) is to get Windows 10 on 1 billion devices: from IoT thru mobile to desktop and with free upgrades for Windows 7 and 8 devices it doesn’t seem such a tall order.

Whilst Hololens is a game changer, we have yet to hear a release date or more importantly a pricepoint.

Windows 10 is nearing the stage of a mature beta product and the Insider community have been invaluable to Microsoft in insights into how to make Windows 10 even better than it is. The slew of features demonstrated were impressive and my favorites are Cortana on Windows 10 and also Continuum.

Assuming that Windows Phone will deliver a high-end phone with serious (even ARM Processor?) spec then this can become a serious productivity device both on the go or connected to a flatscreen and Microsoft’s universal folding keyboard but as of this morning it has been confirmed by WindowsCentral that Continuum will require new hardware. This almost guarantees new Lumia devices will be coming down the pike but which will arrive first, the feature in the OS or the hardware onboard phones supporting dual screen use?

The news of Universal apps including recompiled iOS and Android apps is clearly a game changer but given the complexity and ramifications deserves its own post. I have mixed feelings about this one.

Azure are gearing up for a major throwdown with Amazon AWS, up until now the fight has been over price but now it’s also over services.

IMHO Spartan is a much better name than EDGE but the browser speaks for itself and the features make for a new way of using the web.

There seems from all reports to be a general desire by Microsoft to put Windows 8 and Metro UI New Windows UI behind it. I was hard pressed to find reference to Live Tiles and other Windows 8 related terminology which IMHO does a huge disservice to everything good about Windows 8 that was the foundation for Windows 10.

All in all, Microsoft BUILD is a testament to the hard work and investment in change at the company. As a consumer who has already gone hands-on with Windows 10 and plans to do so with Windows 10 Phone I’m excited to know the release dates and plan accordingly. How about you?

More Windows 10 News During The Last Week

Last week Microsoft released more news about the impending release of Windows 10. Let’s recap, review and embrace the return of Redmond’s mojo.

To recap what we heard late last year, Windows 10 will include: –

  • Cross device support: phone, tablet and PC. That’s right one OS, no more fragmentation or confusion.
  • Support for Universal Apps: one app that is designed and coded to work across all these devices.
  • Cortana onboard: following the success of Cortana on Windows Phone, she is making the leap onto the desktop as an integrated part of Windows 10.
  • Spartan: not just a rebranding but a total reimagining of Microsoft’s browser where the name says it all. Lean, stripped down and fast, but have no fear government sites etc. Windows 10 will still have Internet Explorer to support you existing web apps and sites designed for IE
  • Return of the Start Menu: all the die-hard Start Menu fans get their wish. That said, Microsoft wasn’t happy to simply return the Start Menu. Windows 10 will combine Metro New Windows UI Apps into the Start Menu with one location for the Live Tile and conventional icon apps.
  • Windows 10 Upgrade for FREE: Windows 7 and 8.x owners will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for absolutely no charge at all.

Then Things Got A Little Crazy

Last week Microsoft announced even more details and the crazy, well it’s of the epic, good kind: –

  • Windows 10 Upgrade for Free is not just for Genuine Windows owners. It’s for everyone. Microsoft announced that even non-genuine Windows owners would be able to upgrade. Yes that’s right, it seems Redmond declared amnesty for every pirate out there.
  • Windows 10 will combine new compression technology and (allegedly) no recovery image to reduce the disk footprint of the Operating System.
  • Windows Update is dead. Long live Windows Update: the familiar and often frustrating way that Windows Update works is going the way of the dodo and dinosaur to be replaced with faster, more efficient Peer 2 Peer technology. In short a better Windows Update.
  • I hope there are no classic Control Panel fans out there. Yes, the familiar Control Panel will be replaced over time by the Windows 8.x Settings app.
  • Windows Hello: say Hello to biometric login.
  • Windows 10 on Android phones. Okay now breathe into that paper bag for a few seconds, that’s right. Microsoft have made a strategic alliance with Chinese colossus Xiaomi to provide a Windows 10 phone ROM for their flagship Android phone.
  • The Windows 10 UI. Redmond took the incredible flat design of Windows 8 and streamlined it even more.

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Perhaps the most important announcement came yesterday with the release of the Windows 10 Technical Preview Tools. Developers now have a version of Visual Studio (and other tools) to allow them to begin creating Universal Apps for Windows 10.

The Warptest POV

As part of the Windows Insider Program I’ve been using the Windows 10 preview as a Virtual Machine. Microsoft are iterating the features and UI of the operating system remarkably fast and that phrase seems to sum up one of the fundamental ideas behind Windows 10, remarkably fast. Everything seems designed to give the consumer the best Operating System possible; an OS that works well, intuitively and works fast.

The UX is a definite improvement on Windows 8.x and even as someone who likes Windows 8.1 and doesn’t feel the lack of the Start Menu I find the experience a good one.

Some of these new changes will be radical departures but consumers need not be scared of them. Biometric login will rely on onboard hardware for fingerprint scanning, optical or facial recognition. The settings app is a worthy inheritor for the Control Panel and is easy to navigate.

As for an “amnesty” for all pirates. There are a slew of good reasons for Microsoft to allow upgrade to Windows 10: –

  1. If Windows 10 will use Peer 2 Peer for Updates then logically the more peers, the merrier.
  2. Free upgrades for everyone including the pirates is a strong hook to encourage users to upgrade. After the challenges of making users go cold turkey on Windows XP Microsoft will be interested in finding ways of reducing numbers on older versions of Windows.
  3. Microsoft seems to be moving to a strategy of “if you love it, you’ll choose to pay for it and related items”. The lesson is a simple one that many businesses miss, “You lure more flies with honey than vinegar“.
  4. One of the unconfirmed ideas about this is that the pirates will be able to upgrade but their version of Windows will be treated as non-genuine with the occasional reminder to upgrade and the possibility of only receiving critical security updates.

 Pirates - Windows 10 amnesty

By reducing the footprint of Windows through compression algorithms and a more efficient alternative to the recovery image the SSD will maximize its potential and consumers won’t feel like they are compromising newer hard disk technology for onboard storage capacity.

Ok, Windows on Android phones as a ROM, do I even need to go into the ramifications? In a nutshell, if this takes off beyond Xiaomi then you will be able to pick the phone you want and choose to either make it Android or Windows. Now let’s really go wild, using an app like Multiboot Manager imagine having a phone that can boot to either Android or Windows. (I don’t know if this is feasible but I dare to dream)

Windows 10 spans devices and with Cortana, the Spartan browser and a slew of other features offers the promise of a robust ecosystem that will tie together with Microsoft Band and Hololens technology.

Finally a prediction: I expect to see Microsoft release a high-end, Windows flagship phone with Windows 10 preinstalled either with or after release of the OS.

Exciting times.

 

Microsoft Universal Apps…

… The concept of one app developed and working cross-platform: phone, tablet, desktop is something of a Holy Grail and Microsoft delivered on this promise last year.

With Microsoft Universal Apps a Windows Phone user is able to install the same app on their Windows 8 laptop / desktop.

Not all apps have released Universal App versions yet but many have.

Microsoft Universal Apps - Skype for Windows Phone

Microsoft Universal Apps - Windows 8 Store

Note the Universal App symbols for Skype and eBay in both screen captures.

Was this Just An Iteration?

When you are Agile you start to see iterations in everything but last week Microsoft released major news at the Connect (): event which made me think Redmond has a firm grasp of Agile process.

 

Microsoft Universal Apps - News Summary

Yes those are the faces of amazement because besides the obvious fact that Microsoft made its flagship core technology Open Source cross-platform and allowed non-commercial users to develop for free, Visual Studio just iterated into a platform you can develop apps for Android and iOS on.

In one flavor or another Visual Studio supports development for just about all the main platforms mobile, desktop and server.

The Warptest POV

If you are still singing the “Microsoft is doomed” song I suggest you go sit in the corner with your blankie and suck your thumb because that’s about as serious as anyone is going to take you now.

This is the biggest news in the development arena I can think of in recent years and in doing so Microsoft Universal Apps iterated outwards, fulfilling their potential.

Universal App no longer just means an App for all Windows devices, it may just mean an App that is truly universal. An App built across all devices and Operating Systems and developed in Visual Studio to boot. This could be the end of the Developers Grail Quest …

 

Microsoft Universal Apps - the holy grail

Microsoft Universal Apps - Visual Studio

The hard decision that many Start-ups have to make about which platform to develop for first seemingly just vanished in a puff of smoke.

So if this news excites you (and it should) then you can find the .NET Core 5 code here on Github that’s right, Microsoft really gets it, they are using Github for this.

So if you are a developer get excited and get cracking because the news here only scratches the surface.