Microsoft mobile users may see Windows app development spurt

Microsoft hopes more custom Windows app development will enable IT to adopt Windows Phones and tablets in their organization.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Microsoft hopes Windows application development will boost Windows mobile devices and provide end users with experiences that keep organizations in the Windows ecosystem.

The company at the Worldwide Partners Conference this week called for developers and partners to create line of business applications that appeal to IT professionals seeking to deploy mobile applications and devices in their organizations.

Microsoft has become a stronger proponent for a cross platform support recently and IT pros view the move positively.  But some do not see a need to stay within the Windows ecosystem.

The ability for Windows to work on multiple devices is amazing, said Asitha Kaggoda, head of group IT for Expolanka Holdings PLC, based in Sri Lanka. However, organizations have the flexibility to choose the device that suits the business, irrespective of the operating system, he said.

The application development push was prevalent in several different sessions here ranging from the mobility track keynote to a jam-packed Windows Phone 8.1 breakout as well as CEO Satya Nadella's remarks during the Vision Keynote.

There is an explosion of mobile apps so Microsoft wants to enable organizations to rapidly build applications that are specific for a role or business process, Nadella said.

Microsoft this week placed more emphasis on Project Siena, a rapid application development tool now in its third beta. Partners, whether they are system integrators, IT pros or ISVs, can quickly create Windows 8.1 applications using the familiar look and feel of PowerPoint and Excel.

Can Windows app development boost Microsoft devices?

Windows application development is one of the first steps Microsoft needs to upsell its smartphones and tablets bundled with services.

"I think that's where they have to start," said Wes Miller, research vice president for Directions on Microsoft, an IT consulting organization based in Kirkland, Washington.

Microsoft is not getting the organic uptake from businesses or consumers compelled to buy devices themselves, he said. The most logical approach is to get partners engaged to make its platform better, Miller added.

Microsoft's mantra is about enabling end users to be more productive and meld the digital and work life style, and mobility is the crux of its strategy.

It's not just about selling devices but also selling services, custom line of business applications, security and manageability, said Mark Hassall, Microsoft director, Enterprise Partners, who led a Windows Phone 8.1 session. Many customers struggle with bring your own device and want ways to secure and manage smart phones in an organization, he added.

Selling cloud-based services such as Office 365 and Azure moves away from the device-centric model, and should help the company going forward, Miller said.

In addition, Microsoft also announced a new business mobility program with Hewlett-Packard and Intel to push mobility to the enterprise.

Windows mobile devices abound

During the conference, Microsoft also promoted Windows Phone, Surface Pro 3 and low-cost Windows tablets designed for the commercial and consumer sectors. Mandarin Hotels will deploy the Surface Pro 3 into select hotels, enabling guests to use the tablet during their stay. The initial deployment is for approximately 1,000 units, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

Fujitsu showed a forthcoming 8-inch tablet for the commercial market, expected to ship in September. The company used Project Siena to create custom applications.

Fujitsu was cautious at first and then began to train its engineers on the tool to see what custom applications could be developed, said Joerg Hartmann, vice president, client computing designs for Fujitsu Technology Solutions GMBH, based in Frankfurt, Germany.

Microsoft also said low-cost tablets from vendors such as Toshiba and others would ship later this year.

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