Microsoft Pitches Cloud, Phone Apps to Developers

At its Professional Developers Conference, Microsoft is talking up Windows Azure, Windows Phone 7, IE9, and HTML5.

By Paul Krill
Thu, October 28, 2010

InfoWorld — Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer led Microsoft executives Thursday in promoting the company's Windows Azure cloud and Windows Phone 7 mobile platforms as key destinations for application developers.

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Speaking at the company's Professional Developers Conference in Redmond, Wash., Microsoft executives detailed incremental improvements to development tools and Azure, including making the company's application lifecycle management server, Team Foundation Server, available in the Azure platform-as-a-service cloud. Also emphasized were efforts in HTML5 and the Internet Explorer browser.

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"The cloud is a backplane on which to program and rapidly deploy applications," said Ballmer.

"We've got a great opportunity for you and for us with Windows Phone," Ballmer said. Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft's entrant into the smartphone space, a space where Microsoft has trailed other companies, such as Apple, as far as mindshare.

In the cloud space, Microsoft's placement of TFS in the Azure cloud makes it easier to access, stressed Brian Harry, Microsoft technical fellow. "Today, you have to install TFS on premise," he said. With the cloud version, developers can just connect to their project and check out work items, Harry said.

"It's really no different than your TFS as you know it today," said Harry.

"Bringing TFS to Azure is a good way to show developers how a complex and sizeable application can be factored into the cloud," said analyst Al Hilwa of IDC. "This is going to be scrutinized by any developer who is seriously working on an Azure project."

A Community Technology Preview of TFS on Azure is due next year.  Microsoft stressed Azure is for both public and private cloud deployments.

For its Windows Phone 7 developer toolkit, Microsoft is adding a profiling tool for finding performance bottlenecks. The toolkit features free tools, such as Visual Studio Express and Expression Blend.

"A profiler is a must for serious apps," Hilwa said. "Application momentum [for the phone platform] appears to be coming along nicely. We are all watching if the ramp-up speed for WP7 apps will match that of Android, for example."

Microsoft officials also stressed commitment to HTML5 and the upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser.

"We've already passed 10 million downloads on IE 9, making it the most downloaded beta release of IE ever," Ballmer said.

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