Ballmer at BUILD: ‘The Day and Age of the Windows Developer’
As the Microsoft BUILD event rolled on, The VAR Guy kept his eyes open for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Sure enough, he appeared at the end of the Day 2 to present the keynote. Ballmer delivered an interesting speech on the future of the Windows platform and where Microsoft is truly headed. Here’s a hint: the cloud. Read on for the all-important perspective from yours truly, The VAR Guy …
Ballmer kicked off the keynote with a little discussion about how Windows 8 is more than just Windows 8 — it’s about being “bold” and “re-imaging” the entire Windows ecosystem, which includes Windows Phone, Server, Live, Azure and even Xbox and CRM/ERP products. He also noted — almost omnipotently — that he checked to see how many of the Windows 8 Samsung Developer PC tablets Microsoft gave out the previous day had been “activated” — which apparently, was quite a lot of them, since Ballmer suggested he knew what everyone was doing last night. Our resident blogger assumes he meant they were all playing with the tablet, and he hadn’t been spying on each developer individually. The audience, however, was not amused.
But Ballmer recovered and moved the focus back to the future of Windows and Microsoft, which BUILD has shown are more linked than they once were. Ballmer noted four new key themes for Microsoft Windows: new hardware form factors, cloud services, new application scenarios and new developer opportunities. But Ballmer was cautious about the maturity of the cloud. “We’re still very much in the early days of [the cloud] phenomena,” he said, adding development of that future is key.
Ballmer also promised ARM, x86 and System-on-a-chip builds of Windows are coming, but there still is “… lots of work to do on the ARM systems, which are very important for us.” Ballmer assured everyone that both the Intel and ARM CPUs for tablets and phones will make up one cohesive platform, and as such Microsoft is working closely with the hardware vendors to make that happen.
Then, Ballmer switched gears back to the cloud, noting Microsoft’s cloud services and development of Azure, Windows Live and Office 365 — plus others — includes a “long list” of features to be implemented, which will occur “at a very fast cadence.” Ballmer postulated the following goal, “How do we make SharePoint general-purpose through Azure? How do we make Bing an extensible element for developers?”
For Ballmer, it’s all about redesigning and “re-imaging” the systems around the upcoming platforms. “Each one is moving to the cloud as their fundamental business model [but] how [can developers] change the user model and the business model [through] capabilities of the application?” Ballmer wasn’t waxing poetic, he was serious about how the ecosystem of Windows products could be better applied to real-world needs in a way that future-proofs them for the SaaS world. Or, as Ballmer put it, “Re-instrumenting mission-critical applications” for the cloud.
Ballmer said Microsoft currently offers “a time of unprecedented opportunity for developers,” stressing the sheer volume of Windows PCs expected to ship in 2011 (350 million, according to Ballmer) offers a developmental stage second to none. He closed the keynote with a morale-boosting quip, “Come one come all, it’s the day and age of the developer — of the Windows developer.”
The VAR Guy believes Microsoft is exactly on the right track by appealing to its developer base and exciting them about the Windows ecosystem. Like Apple before it, if you build the tools, the developers will come, and Microsoft has given developers every opportunity to make Windows 8 their passion platform.