Microsoft builds on reputation

A suite of free application development tools designed to help developers easily scale their apps for the Apple Apple Store, Google Play and Windows Store has been launched by Microsoft.

Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group executive vice president Scott Guthrie announced at the Build conference last week that Microsoft was including Xamarin's cross-platform development software in Visual Studio software development tool and making Xamarin Studio for Apple's OS X free as a community edition. 


In addition, Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers will get access to Xamarin's advanced enterprise capabilities at no additional cost.

Guthrie effectively extended its commitment to offering choice and flexibility to every customer across every platform and device. Now application developers can deliver fully native cross-platform mobile app experiences to all major devices, including iOS, Android and Windows.

Guthrie also announced several new services on Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform designed to help developers take advantage of emerging trends, such as the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

A collaboration between the Quest Institute Inc. and Microsoft showcased at Build provided the first Windows Internet of Things implementation in space. Three students from Valley Christian Schools in San Jose, California, USA, demonstrated their experiment, which will run on the International Space Station and test the pliability of metals.

Starbucks Chief Technology Officer Gerri Martin-Flickinger showed, at Build, how Starbucks was developing an Outlook add-in that allowed people to send gift cards within Outlook and schedule meetings at nearby Starbucks locations.

"We're always looking for new ways to engage with our customers outside our stores," Martin-Flickinger said. "Our work with Office is opening up new opportunities for us to connect with our customers and save them time when they want to combine coffee with meetings. Building on the Office platform is reaching our customers right on their desktop or device and extending the Starbucks experience to them in new and compelling ways."

Microsoft also showed off new functionality that lets developers build apps and place them directly into Word, Excel and PowerPoint ribbons.

The developer portal for Office 365 Connectors is now available for developers to write and publish their own connectors. Connectors deliver relevant content, such as updates on financial records or helpdesk logs, from popular apps and services directly into Office 365 Groups conversations. The developer portal is launching with connectors such as Asana, Salesforce, Trello, Twitter, UserVoice, Zendesk and many more.

Xbox partners such as Nickelodeon, Dailymotion, NASCAR and Hulu LLC announced plans to bring Windows 10 Universal Windows apps to Xbox One later this year.

Microsoft is positioning itself as the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.