Microsoft Announces New App Developer Opportunities at Build, Along With Windows Phone 8.1
|Stuart Parkerson in Windows Mobile Wednesday, April 2, 2014|
Microsoft continues to woo the app development community and announced several new new developer opportunities at Build 2014. The emphasis was on the Windows platform as a common platform across devices, a single toolset, a common infrastructure across the Windows and Windows Phone stores, and a clear commitment to interoperability.
The company also announced several advances to Windows including Windows Phone 8.1, the availability of Windows 8.1 Update, a converged developer platform, and a $0 royalty licensing program for OEM and ODM partners developing smartphones and tablets with screens under nine inches.
Microsoft also announced enhancements in the way developers can build applications that target Windows devices using Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 Release Candidate. Among other new capabilities, with the introduction of universal projects, developers are able to create apps that can be optimized to take full advantage of Windows devices.
Developers draw upon their existing skills to deliver shared experiences for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update. Universal projects allow developers to use approximately 90 percent of the same code, a single packaging system, and a common user interface to target apps for phones, tablets and PCs.
To improve the developer experience on Windows, Microsoft announced updates to Windows Store to improve app discoverability and monetization, as well as easier shopping for end users with improved search, more personal recommendations and better merchandising.
Later this week, Microsoft will release the next version of Windows App Studio, a Web-based tool for non-developers that enables the creation of universal Windows apps in a single project.
To help developers build innovative apps for Windows using a natural user interface, Microsoft detailed plans for Kinect for Windows v2, coming this summer, with a new sensor and SDK that will enable developers to create Windows Store apps, with the Kinect sensor, for the first time. The Kinect for Windows v2 sensor now offers more precision, responsiveness and intuitive capabilities.
Also as a part of the conference, Nokia announced three new Lumia smartphones for Windows Phone 8.1, including the flagship Lumia 930, the affordable Lumia 635 and the first dual-SIM Lumia 630.
Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 and introduced Cortana, a personal digital assistant with a persona inspired by a “Halo” character. Cortana gets to know users better over time by asking questions based on behavior and checking in with before she assumes a user is interested in something.
Other new features that make Windows Phone 8.1 smartphones include Action Center, which complements Live Tiles by showing new activities and notifications at a glance; and Senses, a suite of features that takes the work out of managing data use, storage space and battery life.
For IT professionals Windows Phone 8.1 also makes it easier to manage devices and for professionals to connect to essential business apps and services with features such as simplified device enrollment, a built-in mobile device management client, S/MIME for encrypted mail and VPN support.
Windows Phone 8.1 will start rolling out to current Windows Phone 8 users over the coming months. It will also come pre-installed on new phones starting this month. Cortana will launch shortly in the U.S. as a beta, in the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014, and in other countries in 2015. Registered developers can update their phones to Windows Phone 8.1 as part of the developer program later this month.
The Windows 8.1 update including user interface improvements for mouse and keyboard users, the ability to access the taskbar from any screen and pin Windows Store apps to the taskbar alongside desktop apps and favorite websites, and performance and compatibility enhancements to Internet Explorer 11.
Specific to the enterprise, Windows 8.1 Update offers improved Internet Explorer 8 compatibility on Internet Explorer 11, extends mobile device management functionality, and eases deployment with increased predictability for new operating systems and line-of-business apps by leveraging familiar management tools.
Current Windows 8.1 customers will receive the Windows 8.1 Update for free through Windows Update, while Windows 8 customers will receive the update free through the Windows Store, beginning April 8, 2014.
Microsoft is evolving its Windows business model to enable partners to offer lower-cost devices by offering hardware partners $0 Windows with services including a one-year subscription to Office 365.
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