Microsoft sets out to woo iOS, Android and Linux developers

Build is not just for Windows developers – Microsoft is keen to attract iOS, Android and Linux coders too

Microsoft kicked off its annual Build developer conference by showcasing how it plans to extend the reach of the Windows platform.

“As an industry, we are on the cusp of a frontier that pairs the power of natural human language with advanced machine intelligence,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.

“At Microsoft, we call this ‘conversations as a platform’. It builds on and extends the power of the Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere.”

The company introduced a range of programming tools to encourage developers to build universal Microsoft Windows applications.

Earlier in March 2016, Microsoft released Windows Bridge for iOS on the open source github repository. This tool provides an Objective-C development environment for Visual Studio and support for Apple’s iOS application programming interfaces (APIs) used on the iPhone and iPad.

Microsoft said the bridge allows developers to create Universal Windows Apps (UWAs) that will run on any Windows 10 device using iOS APIs and Objective-C code. In effect, it enables existing iPhone and iPad developers to move their apps onto UWA.

In February 2016, Microsoft acquired Xamarin, the open source library for .net.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice-president of cloud and enterprise at Microsoft, said: “The combination of Xamarin, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services and Azure provides a complete mobile app dev system.

“It provides everything you need to develop, test, deliver and instrument mobile apps for every device. We are really excited to see what developers build with it.”

Read more about universal Windows apps

Windows developers can use Xamarin to enable their .net code to run on iOS, Android and Window phone devices.

For Win32 and .Net developers, Microsoft offers a desktop app converter for its Project Centennial initiative. This enables developers to share their apps on the Windows Store in Windows 10.

Microsoft is also offering the Ubuntu user space inside Windows 10, allowing Linux users to run the bash scripts and Ubuntu command line tools.

Winning developers over

Terry Myerson, executive vice-president of Windows and devices at Microsoft, said: “We are dedicated to making Windows the most productive development environment for all developers, with new capabilities for UWP and new tools for bringing apps to Windows 10 from any platform.”

Writing on the Windows blog, Myerson said: “For more than 30 years, Windows has been an open ecosystem, welcoming the contributions of hardware and software partners and developers worldwide.

“Nothing changes with the Universal Windows Platform – it brings together the openness that is part of Windows’ history, as well as everything that you expect from a modern application platform, such as robust install, uninstall, and seamless updates.

“Our goal is for Windows to be the best platform for all developers – making Windows their home and getting the best return on their investment in their code.”

With theses additions, Microsoft is clearly trying to win the hearts and minds of the developer community. While many developers prefer Apple Macs to write code, Visual Studio on Windows 10 now provides a complete set of tools for cross-platform development.

The inclusion of Ubuntu user space means there is even a command-line Linux environment for administrators and coders who prefer the Unix or Linux command-line interface.

Read more on Mobile apps and software