Build 2015: Microsoft to open Windows 10 to rival developers

At Microsoft's developer conference Build 2015, the company announced some major changes coming to its operating system for developers.

Elaine Thompson/AP/File
The new Windows 10 Technical Preview improves the mail and calendar applications, and makes the operating system easier to use on both tablets and computers. Here, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discusses Windows 10 at the company headquarters in Redmond, Washington, on January 21, 2015.

Windows 10, Microsoft's upcoming operating system designed to unify the tech giant's PCs, mobile devices, and gaming consoles will also have something for app developers.

At Build 2015, the company’s annual developers conference, the company announced it would be opening Windows 10 to most developers, including ones that worked on rival operating systems such as Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS.

Microsoft is hoping to convince Android and iOS developers that it is worth their time to create applications for the Windows store, which currently only has about 585,000 apps. By contrast, Android and iOS stores both have over a million apps for users to choose from. Microsoft hopes that opening their new OS, which is expected to launch sometime this year, to developers will give them more incentive to create apps for a larger audience.

The once-dominant tech giant has struggled in the smartphone market and hopes this will help close the gap on its lagging app numbers. To make Windows more appealing to developers, it created Universal Windows Platform Bridges, a series of programs that allow developers building apps for the Web, competing mobile platforms, or for Windows to add their projects to Microsoft's new Universal App Platform. “From PCs to tablets, phones, HoloLens, Surface Hub, and soon to include Xbox and Raspberry Pi – you can reach all these devices and look great on them all using one store and one codebase,” the company wrote on its blog.

This is part of Microsoft’s larger plans to gain traction in the mobile market, which includes allowing developers to bring over existing apps from Android and iOS stores easily. 

“Within two to three years of Windows 10's release, there will be 1 billion devices running Windows 10," Terry Myerson, Microsoft's vice president of operating systems, said Wednesday during the keynote presentation in San Francisco.

Microsoft has been working towards creating plenty of incentive for users to try Windows 10, which includes a free upgrade for those running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 on their devices, regardless of whether the user obtained the software legally or otherwise, when the OS is released sometime this summer.

The company will also roll out a new Web browser with the coming update. Called Microsoft Edge, the new browser will replace the company's once-dominant Internet Explorer.

Microsoft’s open approach with Windows 10 has led to much praise among reviewers, even if everyone is not thoroughly convinced the operating system will attract new users and developers immediately. But no matter what your opinion, Windows 10 is completely changing the way Microsoft is approaching consumers.

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