Microsoft Predicts Windows 10 Will Power 1 Billion Devices

Microsoft envisions a future with 1 billion devices of all types and form factors running its new Windows 10 OS.

That's what exec Terry Myerson said during the opening keynote address at the Build developer conference in San Francisco.

He predicted the billion PCs, tablets, phones, Xbox gaming consoles and emerging device form factors like its HoloLens would feature the OS by fiscal year 2018, which begins in just over two years.

But convincing developers to build applications for the new Universal Windows platform and its application store will be critical if Microsoft can achieve that goal. By providing a common code base for different form factors, Microsoft believes it will have an appealing reason for customers to embrace Windows 10.

In opening remarks, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the case for Windows 10. "Windows 10 represents a new generation of Windows built for an era of more personal computing from Raspberry Pi (the low-cost touch-based device) to the holographic computer," Nadella said.

"Universal Windows apps are going to enable you to do things you never thought were possible," Myerson said. "With Windows 10 we are targeting the largest device span ever. We're talking about one platform -- a single binary that can run across all these devices." While Microsoft has talked up that theme for some time, Myerson announced four key developments that could further embolden Windows to developers and, consequently, millennials -- who tend to gravitate to other computing and device platforms.

Perhaps most noteworthy is the ability to port application code for iOS and Android to the new Universal Windows platform. Windows Phones will include an Android subsystem where an app can be written, but the extensions to Windows will enable Android apps to be extended to Windows, Myerson said. Developers will be able to bring the code over, extend it and put it in the Windows Store, "reaching 1 billion Windows 10 customers," he said.

Myerson also announced developers will be able to compile the same Objective C code used to build Apple iOS apps for iPhones and iPads within Visual Studio on Windows, "enabling you to leverage that code and use capabilities only found on Windows platform. "

Addressing the issue of legacy Windows applications, Myerson announced the new Universal Windows apps by letting developers reuse server-hosted code and tools. "Developers will be able to give Web sites live tiles, integrate with Xbox Live and more," Myerson said. Developers can also now enable Cortana notifications, he noted.

Microsoft is also adding support for .NET and Win32 apps into the Windows Store, enabling these apps to take advantage of all of the Universal Windows platform capabilities. It does so using the learnings from Microsoft's App-V technology that lets developers run their applications in virtual environments. Adobe said its Photoshop Elements and Illustrator will be available in this environment.

The ability to run iOS, Android, legacy Win32 and .NET code could address key barriers to Windows; but what will ultimately make Windows 10 fly is the ability to deliver capabilities not currently available. Much of that is now in, or coming into, the hands of developers.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.