There is a lot of buzz about Windows 8 as it aims to deliver seamless experience across devices. Apart from the PC and the tablet, Windows 8 will also make its way to the mobile devices. Already several smartphone manufacturers have announced devices based on the new OS. Considering the fact that the earlier Windows phone 7 devices weren’t able to create quite a buzz in the world ruled by iOS and Android, it remains to be seen whether Windows Phone 8 is able to make headway. What will also play a crucial role in the success of  Windows 8 OS are the number and quality of apps, which leverage the benefits of the platform and provide a seamless user experience. Fully aware of it, Microsoft has been busy laying the groundwork and has left no stone unturned to woo the developers. Pratima Amonkar, Director – Audience Marketing, Microsoft, shares with us the insights about their various initiatives.

The Approach
There is no denying the fact that the apps can make or break the success of the platform. Taking this into account, Microsoft has a clear roadmap to support the app development ecosystem. Pratima says, “Firstly about app development what we find that, though it is very much a nascent opportunity today, the ecosystem is really expanding hugely. Today’s market is all about apps and as per the data report, an estimated 15,000 apps are published every week and this dramatically outnumbers any other publishing medium that exists. And since it’s an evolving concept in India, the developers face a lot of challenges.  Also, we find that the Indian software companies are more services focused, but at the same time the potential and scope for app development is very huge. Microsoft has a multi-prong approach; we are committed to provide developers with world class software. Secondly, we are focusing on training the app developers to help prepare them for the explosion that is happening.”  

Pratima Amonkar, Director, Audience Marketing, Microsoft

Pratima Amonkar, Director – Audience Marketing, Microsoft

The Groundwork
With its focus on building the eco-system and training the app developer, Microsoft has launched several tools and initiatives. Speaking about the initiatives to benefit the app developers, Pratima says, “We recently launched Visual Studio 2012 that supports modern app development and the entire app lifecycle management. So in terms of products you will find a slew of new products that are coming out from Microsoft and we have a clear roadmap of supporting app development. The second aspect is that of training and enablement. We have trained close to quarter of a million developers just through our build events and follow-up camps across 61 countries in less than a year. In India specifically we have been conducting several acceleration workshops, training workshops and even app development workshops. For instance, last month we had app fest which had about 2567 developers under one roof actually creating apps. And this was just one of the many sessions that we have been conducting over the past six to eight months. The motive is to primarily train people and get them prepared for the app momentum. We also had Mobile acceleration week where we were trained developers and start-ups about the benefits and how to leverage Windows as platform to create the app.” Besides this, Microsoft also has several initiatives for the ISV’s to help enable and empower them with app development.

One area of concern when it comes to app development that it discovered earlier on was not the lack of technical knowledge, but the lack of design sensibilities. And this is one area which Microsoft decided to focus and empahsise on via its training workshops and app fest. Pratima elaborates, “Earlier, we had people telling us that there was a lack of good ideas in India, but I don’t think that’s true. We find some really great ideas, but what we really lack is design skills. People lack the understanding of how UI/UX works and that’s I think is one of the biggest challenges in front of the app developers in the country. App developers need a lot of hand holding and mentoring especially when it comes to UI/UX and we provide the same through our workshops as well as app fest. We have several UX experts who provide mentorship onsite and continue to do so offline as well.” 

The App Store
Apart from launching tools and initiatives like app fest to empower app developments, Microsoft has also ensured that the process of publishing on the Windows store itself becomes an easy process. Microsoft also has in place a review system whereby it provides feedback to the app developer, who can then improve upon the app. Pratima says, “One of the key things the app developer looks for is the ease of adoption, especially in the 18-24 year old age group. As they are not really driven by monetization, but by the opportunity to reach millions, fame and recognition that they can get. So ease of adoption plays a huge role. We also have a global concept for Windows 8 where every app that is submitted by the developer is reviewed and the feedback is sent back to them. This way the app developer can fix the problems and then resubmit the app. We have received positive feedback from the developers, as it’s helping them to convert their idea into an app quickly and more efficiently than on any other platform.” 

Windows 8 platform

Windows 8 platform

Typically, an app developer can approach Microsoft prior to creating an app with just the basic idea, then learn from Microsoft about the UX design, get technical help, create the app, submit it for review, work on the feedback and then finally, hit the store. In terms of monetisation, Microsoft has a process wherein once the app crosses the $25,000 mark, the developers will get to keep 80 percent of the download revenue generated by the app. Speaking about the recipe for a successful app, Pratima says, “Your app needs to address a unique need, which is the most important factor. Secondly, the app needs to look good it should be visually appealing and intuitive. And lastly, it should meet the local need. You know there is a lot of debate about whether Indians should really look at making huge global apps that meet global needs and so on. My personal view is that the ones which are most successful are ones that meet the immediate needs in that particular location. So I think the success of the app depends broadly on these three factors.”

Why Windows 8? 

Lastly, we asked Pratima about the benefits of the Windows 8 platform for the developers and here’s what she had to say, “Windows 8 is really the single biggest developer opportunity, it is designed to be fast and fluid, and works seamlessly across multiple coding languages and across different devices. There is nothing bigger than this; the opportunity is huge in terms of numbers, as well as reach. It is visually appealing with every aspect of app development well taken care of. And it offers all the flexibility that people can expect, whether it is language, tools or devices. Last but not the least, it provides ample monetization opportunities along with recognition and fame.”

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