Microsoft has opened the box on its Windows 10 universal app platform at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain — and developers are expected to like what they see.

Kevin Gallo, director of Windows Developer Platform at Microsoft, said the platform advances Microsoft's development goals. It lets developers to code once and send that code to any Windows device, from a mobile phone or tablet to an Xbox console.

All of these Windows devices will now access a single Store for app acquisition, app distribution and updating.

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More Attractive Platform

Microsoft hopes the promise of mobile apps built on Windows 10 will attract more interest to the platform.

Think about it. Developers can create apps that can run on any Windows device and reach millions of Microsoft users that were previously corralled into using specific apps for specific devices.

The question is whether Microsoft can address the market dominance of both Apple and Google. Figures released by Gartner this morning show the Windows platform trails its nearest rival, Apple, by more than 13 percent. It has also lost 4 percent of its phone sales, year-on-year.

Mobile phone sales to end users worldwide totaled nearly 1.9 billion units in 2014, a 3.9 percent increase from the same period in 2013.

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Microsoft’s Windows 10 Response

For developers, then, the attraction of building for Windows has been limited. The big bucks are made by those working on iOS or Android apps.

Microsoft released a couple of new Lumia phones yesterday for the low and mid-market, all bundled with free subscriptions to 365, OneDrive and Skype. But its unlikely this will address the overall poor sales of Windows phones until after Windows 10 is released.

That's probably why Microsoft decided to give a glimpse of the universal apps platform. Gallo claims Microsoft has three objectives:

  • Driving use figures by providing reach across all devices
  • Delivering better user experiences
  • Maximizing developer investments

1. Driving scale

With the explosive growth in mobile devices over the past 10 years, a new app experience has emerged. Until now mobile experiences have been defined by app and web experiences adapted for mobile.

But this is a world where people are working on many different kinds of apps and devices. Users want seamless experiences and the abilities to use whatever device is most convenient or effective for a given business task. As a testimony he cited what users are searching for in the Microsoft Store:

Just a year ago, the experiences customers sought on Windows phones were different from tablet, which were different again from laptops and PCs, and different from the game console. This has changed – rapidly. Today, the top Store searches for each device type overlap significantly, both across and within app categories."

The solution is a single Windows core that enables developers write an app once with one set of business logic and one user interface app.

2. Personal Experiences

To develop these experiences, Microsoft is providing a number of capabilities that do most of the runtime work for developers:

  • Adaptive UX: Enables a users’ interface fluidly adapt at runtime based on how the user is using the app
  • Screen layout: Improvements to ViewStateManager to create more adaptive experiences.
  • User controls: Windows 10 will be able to determine at runtime how the app, device and customer are reacting
  • Natural user inputs: Windows 10 helps you build an app experience that is more personal by making it easy to incorporate natural user inputs like natural speech and gestures.

It will also make it easier to keep customers engaged and getting specific apps launched more often.

3. Maximizing Investments

Windows 10 will make it easier to code and extend the reach of that code across apps. Windows 10 has also been designed to continue to support existing Windows apps and desktop applications on the devices for which they were developed. Microsoft is also working on making it easy to bring those investments forward to the universal app platform.