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Build: Microsoft Aims To Put Windows 10 on 1 Billion Devices

Microsoft on Wednesday announced its goal to put Windows 10 on 1 billion devices -- ranging from PCs, tablets, phones and Xbox gaming consoles to emerging form factors like its HoloLens -- by fiscal year 2018.

Terry Myerson, executive vice president for Microsoft's Windows group, made that pronouncement during the opening keynote presentation of Microsoft's Build conference, which kicked off on Wednesday in San Francisco.

To achieve its 1-billion-devices goal, Microsoft will have to convince developers to build applications for the new "Universal Windows" platform and its application store. By providing a common code base for different form factors, Microsoft believes it will have an appealing reason for customers to embrace Windows 10.

"Universal Windows apps are going to enable you to do things you never thought were possible," according to Myerson. "With Windows 10, we are targeting the largest device span ever. We're talking about one platform -- a single binary that can run across all these devices."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also made the case for Windows 10 in his opening remarks at the Build keynote. "Windows 10 represents a new generation of Windows built for an era of more personal computing from Raspberry Pi [the low-cost touch-based device] to the holograhic computer," Nadella said.

While Microsoft has talked up the "unified platform" theme for some time, Myerson announced four key developments that could further embolden Windows to developers and, consequently, millennials who tend to gravitate to other computing and device platforms.

Perhaps most noteworthy is the ability to port application code for Apple iOS and Google Android to the new Universal Windows platform. Windows Phones will include an Android subsystem where an app can be written, but the extensions to Windows will enable Android apps to be extended to Windows, Myerson said. Developers will be able to bring the code over, extend it and put it in the Windows Store, "reaching 1 billion Windows 10 customers," he said.

Myerson also announced developers will be able to compile the same Objective C code used to build Apple iOS apps for iPhones and iPads within Visual Studio on Windows, "enabling you to leverage that code and use capabilities only found on Windows platform."

Addressing the issue of legacy Windows applications, Myerson announced the new Universal Windows apps by letting developers re-use server-hosted code and tools. "Developers will be able to give Web sites live tiles, integrate with Xbox Live and more," Myerson said. Developers can also now enable Cortana notifications, he noted.

Microsoft is also adding support for .NET and Win32 apps into the Windows Store, enabling these apps to take advantage of all of the Universal Windows platform capabilities. It does so using the learnings from Microsoft's App-V technology that lets developers run their applications in virtual environments. Adobe said its Photoshop Elements and Illustrator will be available in this environment.

The ability to run iOS, Android, legacy Win32 and .NET code could address key barriers to Windows, but what will ultimately make Windows 10 fly is the ability to deliver capabilities not currently available. Much of that is now in, or coming into, the hands of developers.

More from Build 2015:

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.