Q&A: Driving apps to Windows 8

One of the key factors in the success of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will be apps.

Q&A: Driving apps to Windows 8

Microsoft says its Store has opened with the highest number of apps of any new platform, but early adopters will likely find the pickings relatively slim to begin with.

To find out how quickly that will change, and how the launch is going in general, we sat down with Anand Krishnan, senior director of developer and platform evangelism for Microsoft UK.

Q. You released the Windows Phone 8 SDK, but many here felt it should have come sooner. Presumably it simply wasn’t ready?

A. Honestly, that is the answer. We would have loved to have had it [sooner]… there’s been a lot of interest in it from our audience.

The vision we’ve always tried to land here is that there’s a spectrum of devices. All of these are computers… that come in a range of form-factors, and those form-factors should match the profile of the person using them.

Our belief has always been that the reason you haven’t seen that kind of diversity to date is because the hardware kind of arranges itself around the software that’s available on the market. Windows 8 is an attempt to allow that kind of innovation to flourish, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen over the last few weeks.

Q. Microsoft has given developers free Lumia 920s, so you’re clearly aware of the need to increase the number of phone apps. Is there a sense that Windows 8 is kind of a “gateway drug” for Windows Phone 8 development?

A. I talk to a pretty big spread of customers, everybody from the large organisations that you don’t think of as software developers – the BBC is a software developer, they have a whole division that does nothing more than technology products, and Sky’s the same.

When you get to that very big world, their mecca is exactly what you just described which is: I just want to write this once, I don’t want to have to repackage it for every platform.

I just want to write this once, I don’t want to have to repackage it for every platform

For the Financial Times, which is one of the apps that came out on Windows 8 almost two months before its release, the thing they love about it is they’re running HTML5, which is what they use for their website – they have a team on it – and the Windows 8 app is just an HTML5-based app. It just runs natively. And what they want to do now is find ways to wrap it, so they can run it on iOS and on Android, and in a perfect world they’d love to just have it run across the board.

The convergence platform is what draws them to it, and then of course the market opportunity for Windows 8 is a magnitude higher than anything we’ve seen. That’s the first step, and then it’s a much smaller lateral step to also make that available on Phone 8.

We also think, from a customer experience standpoint, that you get customers used to the same interface, and it carries over to the Xbox as well – so effectively if you’re buying a Microsoft device you should be used to how it works. [We’ve now got] the phone all the way up to the desktop, and I look forward to being able to do the same thing for the third box – the console.

Q. Is there a reason why app announcements – Dropbox, Twitter, Paypal – have trickled out over the past few days rather than coming as part of the Windows 8 launch?

A. That’s a good question. Living in the UK I’ll tell you how the process works, it’s pretty similar [to the US]. You start these conversations a month ago, two months ago. Depending on what you’ve built, or want to build, you can go from first conversation to an app in the store in a month. Or, if you’ve got complicated infrastructure like a lot of the media applications, something like Dropbox… then it could take a bit longer.

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