In the years since CEO Steve Ballmer's infamous "developers, developers, developers" battle cry, Microsoft's relationship with developers has been a vital component of the company's strategy. If early developer enthusiasm is any indication, Microsoft appears to have done well with Windows 8.
Developer response to Windows 8 has been very positive in the wake of last week's Build developer conference, with many coders expressing eagerness to try out the upcoming OS. Foremost on their minds is the operating system's emphasis on touch-based interactions, a move that many believe could give Microsoft a much-needed shot in the arm in the tablet computing space.
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"This is a major rewriting" of Windows, says Thomas McCormick, software and systems developer at ECI Innovations, and other developers view it as an important response to Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
Central to this rewriting is the operating system's new Metro UI, which some believe will enable developers to create the kind of immersive, full-screen, touch-centric applications that are driving the tablet revolution.
Microsoft's bold move
For many developers, the Windows 8 preview came across as a bold, if not essential, step forward for Microsoft. "I think it's the most aggressive [move] they've done in the post-Gates era," McCormick says, adding that Windows 8 will "absolutely" help Microsoft in the tablet space. "The UI is very polished."
Meanwhile, HP software architect Kevin Barnett sees Windows 8 being the biggest change to the platform since Windows 95. "It's a big shift in just about every dimension," Barnett says, citing the importance of the new application model for Windows 8, the operating system's new UI, and the fact that Windows 8 could make Microsoft a significant player in the ARM processor arena.
Noble Edward, senior architect at mobile CRM applications builder Consona, says he will be talking to his employers about supporting Windows tablets. "I develop applications for Android and iPhone, and in our company, we never even included Windows Phone as part of the target," Edward says.
Windows 8's emphasis on touch-based interactions impressed Brendan Forster, a developer at development firm Readify: "I love that they said they are putting touch first."
Developer Chris DiPierro, director of software development at data collection services provider Mi-Co, agrees. Windows 8 presents "an incredible opportunity for us," DiPierro says, citing strong interest among Mi-Co customers for software targeted at the tablet form factor. "Our response thus far has been to do Web applications, but there are inherent limitations you get out of that," such as reliance on HTML5 local storage, he says. "[With Windows 8] I feel like we can port a lot of what we already have -- native .Net apps -- over to this."