Liam Kelly, general manager for Microsoft's developer group, discusses how developers helped shape Windows 10

Critics, consultants and collaborators: Microsoft on the changing role of developers

Everyone knows the first rule of tech is that the success of any platform is directly related to whether or not developers get behind it. Consequently, the individual developer has become our industry’s greatest asset – he or she knows what works and what is likely to fall by the wayside.

More than four decades ago, my company began life as a maker of developer tools and programming languages – Microsoft Basic being our first and foundational product offering. And while times – along with processing power, chipsets, storage, and so on – have changed exponentially, Microsoft’s focus on and investment in the broad developer community has remained constant.

While we aren’t perfect, we ultimately listen to what developers tell us.

In recent years, developers have told us they want more choice and flexibility in the platforms for which they develop, along with tools that make development easier and more productive. For the most part, they want to develop for apps and platforms offering the broadest possible reach and impact and this is causing large technology companies to be more collaborative which places developers at the inception of an idea or product.

As the tech industry shifts towards a more collaborative model, Windows – both as an operating system (OS) and a platform – continues to evolve with it. With the recent launch of Windows 10, we are striving to reignite the ecosystem to allow developers to drive scale and reach across device types, deliver personal and unique experiences and help developers maximise their code, regardless of what platform the code was created for.

For example, it’s been nearly a year since we initially released Windows 10 as a technical preview, allowing developers to provide valuable feedback before it was widely released – this was the first time Microsoft launched Windows in this way.

Windows 10 represents the culmination of our platform convergence journey with Windows now running on a single, unified core. This approach enables a single app to run on every Windows device – on the phone in your pocket, the tablet or laptop in your bag, the PC on your desk, and the Xbox console in your living room. And that’s not mentioning all the new devices being added to the Windows family, including the HoloLens, Surface Hub, and IoT devices like the Raspberry Pi 2. All these devices will now access one Windows Store for app acquisition, distribution and update. And more importantly offer a uniquely powerful opportunity for developers.

As a developer at heart, it’s exciting for me to see what some are already doing. A few months ago at Build, our developer conference in California, MuzikOfficial, makers of low latency Bluetooth air drumsticks, gave a demonstration to show how musicians, or anyone, can make music without the need for a full drum set. Other developers are working on apps that will radically change the way we view climate change, how farmers manage their cattle, the way all of us do work and how we manage our health.

Such developer-driven creativity and innovation is what makes tech the magical industry it is today.

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