Cloud wars: Windows 8 OS cues fight for planet of the apps

22 Sep 2011

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: "This is a time of unprecedented opportunity for developers"

When Microsoft last week took the wraps off its next new operating system Windows 8 at the massive BUILD developers conference in California, some 500,000 versions were downloaded within 24 hours by developers.

While this was a noteworthy response, the most stirring thing was Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s vision that not only would the new operating system (which will run on PCs, tablets and smartphones) create opportunities for seasoned and experienced software developers, but also that one day everyone, amateurs included, would be able to create apps and sell them.

“Evangelising software developers … it’s in our blood, it’s how we’re programmed and what we think about. There’s never been a better time to have software development as a core skill.

“The developer community is multiplying from the hardcore developers that may be 10m people to over 100m people around the planet writing apps, and the chance to do more and profit economically is growing.”

Apps for sale at Windows Store

Ballmer said people who develop apps will be able to sell them via the Windows Store. Apparently, Microsoft will take a 30pc cut of apps sold via the Windows Store.

“We want you to be able to sell apps, services, content and data, single transaction or subscription, to consumers and enterprises and make money from the work you’ve done. We will be taking the cost and complexity out of deployment – so you can put your apps and services in front of customers and charge correctly. It is super important to us – you can bet on that,” said Ballmer.

Watch Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer give a shout out in his keynote last week at BUILD:

Steve Ballmer quotes Silicon Republic at Windows 8 Developers Conference 

“Betting on us and the work we are doing will be an essential part of what you do.

“(Some) 350m Windows devices will be sold this year. No phone, tablet – nothing – on the planet, no OS, will ship 350m units of anything other than Windows and that creates opportunities for developers. When we ship Windows 8, there will be an installed base of 500m PCs that can be updated to Windows 8. Hundreds of millions of people will be the target for your innovation from day one.”

Ballmer said he believed that in a world of connected digital devices, the marketplace for all kinds of software, from games and entertainment apps to more sophisticated analytical apps for businesses, will be crucial.

“Big data, data as a business, business intelligence and massive analytics and new services in the cloud – all of this needs to be invented, put in the market and made available as we move forward.

“We are taking a look at every one of our cloud apps and asking what aspects of this app might be interesting to developers. In Office 365, we’re making SharePoint general purpose. We’re looking at making an extensible version of Bing and general-purpose CRM apps from Microsoft CRM.

“The push on our cloud services through apps, Windows Live and Azure, is a fundamental part of the rethinking and re-imagining going on at Microsoft,” he said. “We’re in several businesses – phones, PCs, tablets, TV devices, cloud platforms, productivity, search, ERP and CRM. Each and every one of these groups, not just the one you heard we are redesigning … , we’re retooling all of what we do.

“This is a time of unprecedented opportunity for developers,” he concluded.

Ballmer would be right, this is a time of unprecedented opportunity for developers if you consider the millions of mobile apps being created and sold by the day on the iPhone, Mac as well as Android platforms and eventually for 350m PCs on the Windows Store.

And countries like Ireland, where schools have so far failed to put software programming into their curriculum, better move fast or miss out on an unprecedented economic opportunity for citizens and entrepreneurs.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years