Ballmer: Windows Is Central to Microsoft's Long-Term Strategy

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer made a surprise appearance at the end of Wednesday's Build keynote to give attendees a high-level perspective on Microsoft's Windows-centric strategy.

Ballmer stressed several times that many of the product efforts highlighted at Build remain in the very early stages, and that developers and consumers can expect plenty of advances in the future.

He also made one thing emphatically clear: Microsoft's strategy is centered around Windows -- Windows 8, Windows Server 8, Windows Azure and Windows Phone. As Ballmer said near the end of his speech, "It's the day and age of the developer. It's the day and age of the Windows developer."

He then exited the stage with a somewhat more subdued version of his trademark line: "Developers, developers, developers."

Ballmer's talk was preceded by Scott Guthrie and Jason Zander, corporate vice presidents of, respectively, Microsoft's Server and Tools Business and the Visual Studio Team. They outlined some significant developer-focused improvements in Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview. Unlike Tuesday's keynote, which focused on Metro-style Windows 8 app development, Day 2's demos catered largely to the .NET rank and file.

Guthrie gave a feature-packed presentation of the improvements to ASP.NET MVC in Visual Studio 11. Guthrie showed off the new asynchronous capabilities in MVC, as well as showed how WebSocket support can provide real-time links via Windows Azure among diverse client devices.

The next version of MVC also gains mobile-focused features, including improved default styles for mobile targets and support for jQuery Mobile. The Visual Studio 11 Phone Emulator also adds support for iOS, enabling MVC developers to target their apps to the iPhone.

Jason Zander, meanwhile, came out to give two distinct demos. In the first, Zander used the Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview to build a DirectX-enabled, 3-D game application in C++. Zander showed off the new image editor in Visual Studio, which now supports alpha blending, drawing applause from the audience. He also walked through the intriguing, pixel-level debugging tools in Visual Studio, showing how a developer can drill down into a visual flaw in a 3-D scene and diagnose and fix the problem.

Zander also showed off Team Foundation Service, the Windows Azure-based version of Microsoft's team development environment, hosted in the Cloud. Attendees were given a one-year subscription to TFS for Windows Azure during the conference.

Downloads of developer preview versions of Visual Studio 11 and Team Foundation Server 11 are now available for download for MSDN Subscribers. General availability is set for 10 a.m. PT Friday for both Visual Studio 11 and Team Foundation Server 11.

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About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.