Microsoft Build: No Moscone mojo on Apple's and Google's turf

Other than a Bing surprise, the attempt to tweak major rivals where they fete programmers falls flat as Microsoft unveils little of consequence to Windows developers

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By contrast, at its WWDC, Apple unveiled a significant visual redesign of its iOS mobile operating system and a slew of capabilities and hundreds of APIs meant to address a wide range of functions and developer opportunities, from enterprise management to tight integration across PCs, tablets, smartphones, streaming media servers, and even automobiles.

Apple's changes to its OS X operating system for Macs were less significant but more forward-thinking than what Microsoft has in store for Windows 8.1. For example, OS X 10.9 Mavericks optimizes energy management, brings tabbed panes to its Finder folder management system, allows use of Apple TV-connected displays as if they were local monitors, integrates apps and services more tightly with iOS, and standardizes management and other APIs across OS X and iOS.

It also showed off a Web version of its iWork office productivity suite that works on both Windows and Mac browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer), with functionality that appeared to match what the native OS X and iOS versions can do -- a shot against Microsoft's IE-centric Office Web Apps and Google's moderately capable Google Docs.

On the hardware side, Apple introduced an updated MacBook Air that boasts 12-hour real-world battery life and a shocking new cylindrical design for its developer-oriented Mac Pro server.

At its I/O conference, Google had a less compelling lineup for developers than Apple -- the lack of a new Android version was a glaring omission. But the lineup outpaced what Microsoft has on offer this week at Build.

In addition to the free junk food Google offers at its events, the company gave attendees a preview of the Android Studio developer tool (its first serious IDE), an update to Google Play Services featuring new APIs, Chrome browser improvements, and a cloud capability for storing nonrelational data. Google also touted PHP cloud capabilities, the VP9 video codec, and a makeover of the Google+ social app. Overall, Google I/O had a deep focus on stitching together the Google ecosystem, as Apple did at WWDC, to increase the reach of its platforms.

By contrast, Microsoft danced between the Bing API services message and CEO Steve Ballmer's contradictory promotion of Windows 8, RT, and Phone 8 as a unified app and services enviroment and his promotion of the strength of being able to run legacy Windows apps on (just) Windows 8.

Compared to what Google and Apple did in their Moscone galas, Microsoft's Windows 8 and Visual Studio announcements offered more of the same. Maybe Microsoft will surprise us later this week at Build with some Windows Phone or other mobile-related news. But from what we know so far, Microsoft's Moscone event lacks the magic -- and substance -- of its chief rivals' galas.

This story, "Microsoft Build: No Moscone mojo on Apple's and Google's turf," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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