REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 11, 2011 — When customers walk into Dave Wolf’s office, he has a single goal in mind.
“We’ve had a longstanding belief in delivering the right experience to the right person on the right device,” said Wolf, the vice president of strategy for Cynergy, a technology agency that designs and builds software. “Historically, it’s been difficult to make that come to life, but it’s exactly what our customers want.”
Like millions of other developers, the team creating new experiences at Cynergy is working within what the tech sector calls the “modern Web” – a place of rich, immersive, and engaging user experiences that consumers interact with across a wide spectrum of devices.
Today, technology standards such as HTML5 are helping companies like Cynergy make the vision of building experiences customized for the right people and delivered in the right context a reality. However, Wolf and others like him are waiting for a platform that they can use to build on this new modern version of the Web. That’s why he can’t wait to see what Microsoft unveils next week at BUILD, an event where the company will share upcoming product plans with developers, including a preview of the next version of Windows, code-named “Windows 8.”
“I think it’s time to democratize the development of these rich applications,” Wolf said. “I’m looking forward to anything that Microsoft can do to build the right tools and the right workflows to make it possible to build the number of apps that we need to drive better lives. If you look at the ‘right experience, right person, right device’ philosophy through Windows, it opens up the whole world.”
BUILD, which runs Sept. 13-16 in Anaheim, Calif., aims to show developers of all types how they can take advantage of Microsoft’s platform, said Walid Abu-Hadba, corporate vice president of the company’s Developer and Platform Evangelism Group (DPE).
“BUILD is where the full spectrum of hardware and software developers, from startups and entrepreneurs to those who work for the world’s biggest brands, come together to get a deeper understanding of Microsoft’s product roadmap,” Abu-Hadba said. “At BUILD, developers will see there’s an opportunity to deliver new and exciting experiences and applications that are going to reach millions and millions of users.”
At the event Microsoft will offer developers a preview of a reimagined Windows. First unveiled at the D9 conference in June, Windows 8 will let developers leverage the power and flexibility of Windows to deliver a variety of dynamic, modern apps on a huge scale.
Playing Across Multiple Consumer Devices
“When you have one underlying language that can play on multiple different devices and platforms, it’s extremely helpful for us from the standpoint of efficiency and rendering consistent experiences,” he said. “So embracing standards and bringing those to the desktop and into the core OS is really exciting for us.”
By putting such tools into the hands of developers like Lucaccini, Microsoft wants to make sure the next generation of developers has the tools they need to shake up the tech world with the next big idea.
The developers who “make it” will be the ones who can come up with a “genuinely good idea,” said Simon Sinek, author of the book “Start with Why” and creator of a simple model, “The Golden Circle,” that codifies what makes the most inspiring people and organizations successful. “By good idea, I mean a genuine solution to a real problem.”
A Platform for the Modern Developer
Clockwise from top left: Mike Lucaccini, president and founder, Archetype; Naveen Jain, CEO, SparkArt; and Dave Wolf, Vice President, Cynergy.
Microsoft interviewed Sinek and several others on what it takes for developers to break through in today’s tech world. Their interviews will be included in an upcoming Microsoft documentary called CTRL+ALT+COMPETE.
Breaking through, said Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, requires focusing on doing things that matter to real people as opposed to making money. From a video interview O’Reilly taped with Microsoft for the upcoming CTRL+ALT+COMPETE documentary: “We watch interesting technology revolutions with people having fun, people who don’t have a prayer of making any money, because they’re just doing something that’s so cool that they can’t not do it,” he said during the interview for CTRL+ALT+COMPETE. “And then along in the middle of that ferment there’s usually somebody who says ‘oh wait, I know how to make money with this,’ and then the entrepreneurial revolution starts.”
“Developers are looking for ways to build a tighter relationship between a brand and its customers and create new types of ways to interact,” said Jamin Spitzer, senior director of platform strategy in Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) Group. “For the people who grew up with the Web, or grew up building applications for mobile devices, exploiting the PC and building experiences on the world’s most powerful devices is an amazing opportunity,” he said.
It’s a big-tent approach that promises every developer a consistent opportunity: to leverage their existing skills and code assets to create great experiences; to create apps that feel like a natural extension of the device they’re running on (with no extra coding or testing required); to take advantage of the full power of the devices their app will run on; and to have an easy way to sell what they create.
“Developers are interested in reaching millions of users,” Spitzer said. “They want great tools. They want to be able to monetize their creations and scale them without a whole lot of additional work to reach lots of different devices and contexts. So you see people building applications that have a front end that exists across multiple devices, PCs, and browsers, powered by a single backend.”
Build Once, Deploy Anywhere
”Build once, deploy anywhere” is how Naveen Jain refers to that approach. The CEO of SparkArt, a digital agency that builds apps and experiences for entertainment-oriented brands, Jain sees the Microsoft platform as helping developers solve one of their biggest pain points.
“One of the big, classic problems for us or any digital agency is supporting all the different types of ways that users will consume our clients' content,” he said. “The mechanism they use to access the project – tablet, smartphone, laptop or desktop – has a huge impact on what we do from a development perspective.”
Jain and his team used to custom-develop an experience for every type of user. Then IE9 came along, which brought them much closer to the “build once, deploy anywhere” goal. “I love this direction of all the Web projects we execute becoming more application-like, and I really hope that we continue to march down this path,” Jain said. “In my opinion, that's really what will set the Microsoft stack apart. Developers are going to have so much more power, so many more things to do, and so many more ways to connect with consumers.”
“All these opportunities and choices mean it’s a great time to be a developer, and we believe the opportunities on the Microsoft platform are endless,” Spitzer said.