Microsoft is holding special events for iOS developers in its Mountain View campus to convince them to make apps for the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platform. The two platforms’ app ecosystems are still in nascent stages, and Microsoft’s doing all it can to ramp up developer interest.
This is in deep contrast to the situation a decade ago, when developers had Windows high up their priority list for writing software. Apple, in fact, relied on Microsoft’s Office suite of applications to prevent Mac sales from tanking.
The session was one of many held over two days at Microsoft’s campus to give iOS developers of all types a better grasp of how to make apps for its Windows Store, which offers apps for the latest Windows tablets and PCs (Windows Phone 8 was discussed too, but the focus was mostly on building apps for computers and tablets).
And for iOS developers that attended the event, Microsoft’s overtures seemed to be working, partly because of Microsoft’s traditional focus on supporting developers.
Microsoft has a strong experience not just in evangelising its software tools to developers, but also in developing robust development tools. With newer releases of its OS, it also seems to have found a design language—Metro—that has appealed to a lot of users.
One factor that deters iOS developers from adding the Windows platform to their list of supported mobile platforms is the separate development procedure required for Windows phones and Windows tablets. This would have been fine had Microsoft sold millions of devices over the past few quarters, but no sales data or estimates point to explosive sales of Windows phones or tablets.
The sparsely populated Windows Store does have its advantages for indie developers, though:
Yet several iOS developers, including Santhosh Krishna, an Oracle developer who builds children’s learning apps for iOS in his spare time, say they are interested in developing for Windows-running tablets and smartphones precisely because the market isn’t as crowded as Apple’s App Store.
“It’s a lot easier to get lost in iOS world because there are a million apps out there,” Krishna says.
The Windows Phone Store has seen healthy growth over the past year or so, but its 120,000 apps are still nowhere close to the App Store’s 700,000.
Microsoft had previously designed a tool to help iOS and Android developers port their apps to Windows Phone 7.