Microsoft Courting App Developers, Eyeing Android App Support

The Windows Phone app ecosystem falls well behind Android and iOS, and Microsoft is obviously looking at ways to boost it. The company has reportedly ordered its Developer Experience (DX) team, a.k.a Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE), to lure more Windows and Windows Phone app developers. The firm is also reportedly planning to give Windows 10 native Android app support.

Microsoft in November revealed it had over 525,000 apps in the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store combined. To put that in perspective, both Google Play and App Store have over 1.3 million apps.

Microsoft has previously taken several strides towards improving the Windows Phone and Windows app offerings and experience. The firm had recently started accepting ‘Universal Apps’ for its app stores, letting developers create an app once and scale it accordingly as per the platform and device, instead of creating separate versions for separate devices. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, a long-time Microsoft watcher, claims this is still ‘Plan A’ in Microsoft’s strategy to boost the Windows and Windows Phone app ecosystem.

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By linking two apps across the two stores, developers were able to offer the ‘get once and download for all compatible Windows devices’ experience, apart from being able to link in-app purchases, and both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 apps. Linked apps also give developers the ability to roam application data across form factors, and a single notification channel. Microsoft has also outlined consolidated price tiers and consistent certification policies between the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store.

The DPE/DX team is now reportedly been ordered to aggressively attract eye independent software vendors (ISVs), from startups to more established companies. The team is said to also be looking to recruit students, and also developers not currently supporting Microsoft platforms. ISV outreach teams across the company are apparently also being consolidated, apart from plenty of other reorganisation within Microsoft to achieve the same effect. The outreach teams are reportedly also looking to work with venture capital firms to get an inside track on app development startups, with Microsoft Ventures Accelerators also being roped in.

Foley adds that Microsoft’s ‘Plan B’ is to enable native support for Android apps on its Windows and Windows Phone platforms. Sources close to the matter have added that it can be a possibility in Windows 10, which was unveiled this year in September and the consumer preview of which is expected to be unveiled at Microsoft’s January 21 event.

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