Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie with Box CEO Aaron Levie on stage at Build today.

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft showed some new stripes and drew repeated cheers from the crowd of third-party developers at the company’s Build conference here this morning, demonstrating new tools meant to make it easier to develop apps for the cloud and devices.

At one point, the company showed how to use a Mac to code for a mobile device using its developer tools. In another demo, the company demonstrated how to connect to services from Google and Amazon for single sign-on to cloud applications.

Connecting to Amazon Web Services in Windows Azure Active Directory.

Box CEO Aaron Levie, the Mercer Island native, commented about the difference as he appeared on stage in an “I’m a PC” shirt to tout integration between Box and Windows Azure Active Directory.

“It’s really exciting to see an all-new Microsoft,” Levie said, joking that he had been waiting for Bill Gates to drop down from the ceiling and take the Mac away during the earlier demo.

The company is using the conference to try to generate new momentum among the developers who make apps and services for Windows, Windows Phone and Windows Azure. The company yesterday released a preview of Windows 8.1, an update to Windows 8 that adds new features to the tablet and PC operating system.

Microsoft needs the support of these developers as it tries to catch up to Apple and Google in phones and tablets, while maintaining its traditional stronghold among large business customers.

Microsoft is also courting the developers in other ways. The company held a splashy party at an outdoor bar in downtown San Francisco last night, and has so far given away two tablets to Build attendees — a Surface Pro and an Acer Iconia tablet that is the first 8-inch device to run Windows 8.

Microsoft started the day with a deep dive into the latest features of its developer tools and services including Visual Studio 2013 and  ASP.Net. A demo by Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman drew repeated cheers from the developer crowd, showing features such as the ability to see updates in the code live simultaneously in Chrome and IE, and to hover over CSS rules in the code to see which browsers and versions support them.

Satya Nadella, the president of Microsoft’s Server & Tools Division, talked about Microsoft’s focus on using its first-party online services, including Xbox Live and Skype, to “battle test” its Windows Azure cloud computing platform.



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  • Martin McCaulley

    Are they supporting developers by offering realistically priced development tools? ($10,000+ for visual studio ultimate without a developer certificate)

    • Guest

      Because every developer needs VS Ultimate?

      • Martin McCaulley


        • Guest

          Incapable of answering the question?

          • Martin McCaulley

            No, but I really contrast what MS offers with what Apple offers. Apple offers a whole lot more for $99. Personally I’ve used VS since version 1.0 (back then Borland had a better C++ compiler and the Owl library was far superior). I use the professional version at work with Resharper. Back in the day, MS use to be reasonable about pricing and they use to be exciting. Now it just feels like they use developers as a profit center and they really pray off of Corporate customer’s willingness to over pay. The fact that Xcode (Apple) works great for navigating code without an extension and hasn’t abandoned C++ and offers a lot of value for what a developer is paying is refreshing. MS’s play just feels like another billion dollar money grab. MS’s past offenses require a bigger make up play than they are currently making. Basically I’m not convinced.

          • Kirkster

            Except that Visual Studio express is still free, along with SQL Server express, and both are fine for developing at the hobbyist level. Having worked with Xcode on a Mac, I think you’re high if you are trying to compare that to the entire integrated stack that is Visual Studio (which works fine with Subversion, btw, that’s what we use at work). I’ve been working with VS since before it *was* VS (back in the days of VBx and “Visual InterDev” (which did suck), and VS2012 is far and away the better IDE and overall plugin-friendly stack than anything Apple offers.

          • Martin McCaulley

            Oh, and team foundation server is a bad joke. Mercurial and Git is a much better alternative (mix that with Jira and TeamCity for a winning combination). There’s a reason why the Windows team continues to use Source Depot!!!

    • tony

      They offer express for free. I’m sure paying their software engineers is considered as supporting developers too. Or you can build an IDE that powerful and give it out for free, ijs…

      • shawn

        There’s a more powerful IDE that only costs $600. It’s called IntelliJ IDEA.

        • Guest

          Buy it.

      • Martin McCaulley

        Bait and switch…

        • Guest

          Or simply a freemium model, like much of the web.

          • Martin McCaulley

            Let’s be real though, express is a good introduction and nothing more! The real versions are offered at a significant premium. MS needs to be paid to meet capital costs, but with great value comes a great following (like Apple…). I’m just not convince!!. This goes hand in hand with my slogan, “Windows by trade, Unix by choice”

          • Guest

            Yes, Martin McCaulley, it seems a lot of ex MS employees come up with similar slogans and/or proclaim undying love for Apple/Google/OSS after they wash out. Of course by that point they’re not exactly unbiased are they?

          • Anonymous

            Who said this person you refer to is an ex Microsoft employee? Why do you go for personal attacks on this person instead of coming up with some compelling counter arguments? Are you being unbiased? Are you being respectful of others and exhibiting ethical behavior?

          • Guest

            Your Linkedin profile Martin – Duh. Did you really think you could swap your alias to anonymous after the fact and just pretend it wasn’t you? If so, you’re a f’n moron.

          • Anonymous

            Why don’t you give me your contact information, we can meet and I’ll show you who the f’n moron is by putting my boot so far up your ass that you taste leather.

    • panacheart

      Auto renewal version is only $4,249. Auto renewal is $13,000. That seems extremely excessive unless you’re a large corporation. But with all the lost sales to Apple they need to make up the difference somewhere, and Bing ads just aren’t cutting it.

      • Hug for Disgruntled Ex Softies

        Poor Scott. Still so bitter and vindictive. Let it go already. All this unresolved anger isn’t healthy.

  • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson


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